Barack Obama has broken his relative silence on the goings-on since the inauguration through a statement from a spokesperson, lending qualified support to the protesters across the United States who are opposing Donald Trump‘s executive orders on immigration.

“The president fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” Obama’s spokesman, Kevin Lewis, said.

Lewis said that Obama was “heartened” by the flurry of activity and engagement from both seasoned activists and regular citizens over the past few days.

“Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake,” Lewis said. He didn’t refer specifically to Trump’s order in this context, but he’s not exactly talking about the Super Bowl, is he?

Lewis did however explicitly reject any comparison between Trump’s executive order and Obama’s own executive actions on visas. This has been a bit of a sore point – and an easy goal for Trump – given that the seven countries he has applied the immigration ban to are the same countries the Obama administration singled out as places of terrorism concern.

Obama’s order, as Lewis argues, wasn’t for a unilateral travel ban. It was related strictly to eligibility to enter the United States without a visa – a restriction one might argue is unfair, but not necessarily tantamount to a ban. But Obama’s willingness to create a tiered immigration system was certainly leveraged by Trump.

Lewis also cited statements from Obama from back in 2015, when Trump first floated the idea of a Muslim ban. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

Source: 9 News.

Photo: Getty Images.