In a discussion with lawmakers on immigration, Trump reportedly asked why the U.S. should accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries.”
The United Nations human rights office on Friday rejected his words as “racist” and inciting xenophobia.
“These are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States. There is no other word one can use but ‘racist,'” U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a Geneva news briefing when asked about the comments.
“You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes,’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome,” he continued. “It’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia that will potentially disrupt and destroy the lives of many people.”
Colville was not alone in condemning the vulgar comments. As Africans woke up to news of the president’s words, much of the world had already weighed in.
The African Union continental body told The Associated Press it was “frankly alarmed” by the president’s comments.
“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.
The comments put African leaders across the continent in an uncomfortable position.
As top recipients of U.S. aid, nations were weighed with the decision of how to respond diplomatically, especially with the Trump administration threatening to slash foreign assistance.
South Sudan government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told AP: “Unless it was specifically said about South Sudan, we have nothing to say.”
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress was quick to call the comments “extremely offensive,” however.
Deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte said that while developing countries are facing difficulties, the U.S. itself has millions of people who are out of work or without health care.
Still, “we would not deign to make comments as derogatory,” Duarte said.
Kenyan activist and award-winning photojournalist Boniface Mwangi tweeted out an image showing the word “racist” superimposed over the president’s face, writing: “President @realDonaldTrump has called Africa a shithole. How America elected a narcissist, racist, white supremacist to be their president defies logic. Africa sends love and light to America.”
President @realDonaldTrump has called Africa a shithole. How America elected a narcissist, racist, white supremacist to be their president defies logic. Africa sends love and light to America. #ShitholeTrump pic.twitter.com/AuZDUy1pwf
— Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi) January 12, 2018
Adding insult to injury, Trump’s remarks came as Haiti prepares to mark eight years since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of people, displacing many more.
Former Haitian President Laurent Lamothe said the “world is witnessing a new low today,” adding “enough is enough.”
“SHAME ON TRUMP!” he wrote on Twitter, adding: “The world is witnessing a new low today with this # ShitholeNations remark! Totally unacceptable!”
SHAME ON TRUMP! The world is witnessing a new low today with this #ShitholeNations remark! totally unacceptable! uncalled for moreover it shows a lack a respect and IGNORANCE never seen before in the recent history of the US by any President! Enough is enough!!
— Laurent Lamothe (@LaurentLamothe) January 12, 2018
Former CIA Director John Brennan was quick to condemn the comments, saying Lady Liberty is “weeping” over the president’s “atrocious” words.
“Lady Liberty, our founding fathers, and generations of right-thinking Americans are all weeping tonight over the atrocious comments attributed to Donald Trump, who continues to demonstrate daily that he is a deeply flawed person,” Brennan tweeted.
Former Mexico President Vicente Fox, known for repeatedly trolling Trump on Twitter, adding his voice to the criticisms, writing in a tweet that Trump’s mouth was “the foulest shithole in the world.” He then reminded Trump that America’s “greatness” was built on diversity.
Late-show hosts also were quick to jump on the comments Thursday evening, mocking the president.
Trevor Noah, who was born in Johannesburg, said on The Daily Show: “Guys I don’t know how to break this to you, but I think the president might be racist,” he quipped. “Personally, as someone from South Shithole, I’m offended, Mr. President.”
Stephen Colbert addressed the president on The Late Show, saying: “Sir, they are not shithole countries. For one, Donald Trump is not their president.”
Jimmy Kimmel also slammed Trump’s comments, saying: “We voted for a racist.”