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Iran retaliates, Canada opens arms after Trump immigration ban

President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the East Room of the White House January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the East Room of the White House January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.

World leaders reacted harshly Saturday to President Trump's executive order suspending immigration and visas for citizens from certain countries with majority Muslim populations. Iran, one of the targeted nations, suggested it would limit issuing visas to American tourists.

Trump on Friday suspended all refugee admissions to the U.S. for four months and banned the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely pending a security review meant to ensure terrorists cannot slip through vetting. Trump also issued a 90-day ban on all entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries with terrorism concerns, including Syria.

The official IRNA news agency Saturday carried a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry that says Iran will resort to "counteraction" to Trump's executive order.

"Iran, to defend the dignity of the great Iranian nation, will implement the principle of reciprocity until the removal of the insulting restriction against Iranian nationals," the statement reads. "It will apply corresponding legal, consular and political actions."

The two countries have had no diplomatic relations since 1979 when militants stormed the U.S. embassy.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a series of tweets in response to President Trump's order, saying the move would be "a great gift to extremists and their supporters."

He explained that statement further, tweeting: "Collective discrimination aids terrorist recruitment by deepening fault-lines exploited by extremist demagogues to swell their ranks."

A follow-up tweet promised a reciprocal response: "While respecting Americans & differentiating between them & hostile U.S. policies, Iran will take reciprocal measures to protect citizens."

Other world leaders, including officials from Canada and Scotland, also tweeted responses to the new U.S. policy.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embraced refugees, also temporarily prohibited from entering the U.S., making a pointed comment about not discriminating on religious grounds: "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada"

Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, retweeted Trudeau, seconding his invitation: "#WelcometoScotland too."

People in the affected countries reacted with dismay to the U.S. move, the Associated Press reported.

"I am shocked beyond words. This will mean that my new husband will never be able to join me in the U.S.," said Fatima Ashkir, a Somali-American woman from Florida who came to Mogadishu to marry her Somali boyfriend.

In Jordan, a Syrian refugee who submitted to an initial security screening in the hopes of moving to the U.S., sees his hopes dashed with President Trump's order.

"When we heard of the order, it was like a bolt of lightning, and all our hopes and dreams vanished," Ammar Sawan said Saturday.

Other Syrian refugees in Jordan warned that U.S. policy could inflame anti-American sentiment in the region.

'Complete chaos,' 1,000 calls after Trump immigrant ban hits

"This decision made the U.S. lose its reputation in the world as the biggest economy, the biggest democracy," said refugee Nasser Sheik, 44, who was paralyzed by a stroke two years ago and lives with his family in Amman.

"We are not going out to harm people of other countries," added his wife Madaya, 37.