Donald Trump
Donald Trump Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump clarified on Sunday that his executive order temporarily banning immigration from several Muslim countries is about security and is not a Muslim ban.

"America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those feeling oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border," the president said in a statement quoted by The Hill.

"We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say," he added.

Trump said his policy is similar to what former President Barack Obama did in 2011, when he "banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months." He noted that the Obama administration also identified the seven countries included in his executive order.

"To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe," stressed Trump.

"There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order," he added.

Trump stressed that the U.S. will be issuing visas again to all countries once "we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days."

"I have a tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria," he said.

"My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering."

The executive order, signed on Friday, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and halts the country's refugee resettlement program for four months.

It also denies entry for 90 days to people from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya.

On Saturday, a federal judge ruled government officials had no right to detain those who landed in the U.S. holding valid visas. However, the ruling will only affect those who were in transit when the ban was imposed, and will not affect the rest of Trump's executive order.

The executive order has resulted in protests breaking out across the country on Saturday and Sunday.