LONDON: More than 1,500 people in East Lancashire have signed a national petition calling for President Donald Trump to be prevented from making a state visit to the UK. The petition was launched after he instigated the so-called ‘Muslim ban’ preventing people from seven countries travelling to the USA and ending its refugee programme. Yesterday more than 312,000 people had petitioned The House of Commons saying he should not be invited as it would cause ‘embarrassment to the Queen’. A breakdown by constituency showed 361 people in Blackburn had signed, 319 in Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Darwen accounted for 292, Hyndburn 195, Pendle 265 and Burnley 190. Sumai Halasa, 47, who lives in Wensley Fold, Blackburn, is from Libya, one of the affected countries. She, along with her husband Masood. 48, and son Abdolla, seven, were granted asylum in the UK after fleeing the war there as refugees. She said: “We owe our lives UK and the town of Blackburn, which welcomed us with kindness. “It has made us uneasy and scared that our freedom to travel is affected . “It seems to me that these actions are racist.” Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said blanket travel ban was ‘foolish’. He said: “The UK needs to have a mature and responsible reaction to this. “I believe in building bridges not burning them. “I would not want to see poison introduced into the UK’s relationship with the USA.
“But if the ban remains then I think that as a matter of principle he shouldn’t be invited.” Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, who attended Trump’s inauguration, said: “Donald is wrong on this. I don’t think a blanket ban on travel works. “I think the checks and balances in place such as the courts and congress will lead to an acceptable compromise and I think the objectives he has on security could be achieved through thorough vetting. “For those rushing to their keyboards to condemn him. Where were they when President Obama threatened the UK when he said we would be ‘at the back of the queue’ for a trade deal if the country voted to leave the EU?” Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman Abdul Hamid Qureshi said: “The policy is a negative for the USA, the people fleeing Syria and other war zones have nothing anyway and the USA only took a small number of refugees. “As for banning him from the country I think that would be wrong. “The UK should be respectful and debate their differences and policies to our guests. “It would not be helpful to distance ourselves from America.”