TEHRAN: Iranians and Iraqis planning to fly to the United States were prevented from boarding on Saturday after US President Donald Trump’s order to restrict arrivals from seven Muslim countries.
On Friday Trump signed a sweeping executive order to suspend the arrival of refugees and impose tough new controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
His move sparked widespread criticism and concern across the world.
Travellers from the Middle East were stopped from boarding US-bound planes and some already in the air when Trump signed the executive order were detained on arrival, the New York Times reported.
In Tehran, two travel agencies told AFP they had been instructed by Etihad Airways, Emirates and Turkish airlines not to sell US tickets or allow Iranians holding American visas to board US-bound flights.
An Iranian studying in California visiting her home country said Saturday that she could not return because her ticket had been cancelled under the new restrictions.
“I had a ticket for Turkish airlines on February 4, but it has been cancelled,” the girl who did not wish to be identified told AFP.
“I’ve informed the university officials by mail and they were surprised. They are going to send me a letter so I can try fly from Europe.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did not comment directly on the visa ban Saturday, but did criticise Trump, saying that now was “not the time to build walls between nations”.
KLM refuses US carriage to passengers from proscribed Muslim countries
Earlier, Dutch airline KLM said it had refused carriage to the United States to seven passengers from predominately Muslim countries subject to a temporary immigration ban imposed by the Trump administration.
A spokeswoman for KLM, part of the Franco-Dutch Air France KLM group, declined to specify which countries the passengers came from or where they were flying from.
“Worldwide, we had seven passengers whom we had to inform that there was no point in us taking them to the U.S.,” said spokeswoman Manel Vrijenhoek. “There is still some lack of clarity about whom this ban affects.”