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Trump considers executive order to ban Muslim Brotherhood

Move discussed ahead of bill tabled by Republican congressmen to outlaw the organisation
A Malaysian Muslim activist holds a placard during a protest against US President Donald Trump's immigration order, outside the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpu (AFP)

Donald Trump is considering an executive order to ban the Muslim Brotherhood, bypassing legislation currently being prepared in Congress.

According to administration sources cited by the New York Times, the White House is currently discussing the legislation as a follow-up to the executive order which saw Muslims from seven countries banned from the US.

Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mario Diaz-Balart tabled a bill in Congress in January to brand the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, claiming they supported a "grand jihad" to destroy Western civilisation.

"This potent threat to our civilisation has intensified under the Obama administration due to the wilful blindness of politically correct policies that hamper our safety and security," Cruz said in statement accompanying the bill.

However, it now seems that the White House might move to designate the group without approval from Congress.

A number of figures in the Trump administration have been known for holding anti-Muslim views. Frank Gaffney, Trump's acting assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs, has been accused by the Anti-Defamation League of having "promulgated a number of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories over the years" while his National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn has previously described fear of Muslims as "rational".

The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has condemned the plan to outlaw the Brotherhood.

"You have radical Republicans and extreme Islamophobes deciding US policy right now and I think that every minority is in for a very rough ride over the next few years," spokesperson Corey Saylor told Al Jazeera.

"Every Muslim organisation in the US has been subjected to extreme vetting at this point under both Bush and Obama. If they start coming after us, then the public should know that it's a witch hunt and nothing else. It has been investigated before."

Trump previous executive order suspends entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry into the US for 90 days.

The order, which caused mayhem worldwide and has been met with legal challenges, was later clarified to say that green card holders were not targeted by the ban.

On Thursday, a US federal judge extended until 21 February a stay on visa holders and refugees being deported under the ban

Judge Carol Bagley Amon took the decision at a hearing in New York, saying that she did not want to leave the issue in limbo given that the stay - ordered last Saturday - was set to expire on 11 February.

Lawyers for the US justice department told the federal court in Brooklyn Thursday that they planned to file a motion to dismiss the case and said no one was currently in detention.

Counsel representing rights groups said they were still waiting for final confirmation that no one was being detained, and said that some travelers had been deported despite the stay.

They called for a complete list of all those detained since the executive order came into effect last Friday so that they could ask everyone deported whether they wanted representation or to return.

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