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TEHRAN, Iran — President Donald Trump provoked an angry backlash from Iranian voices after reports he would block visas for citizens of seven Middle Eastern and African countries and temporarily ban most refugees.
Trump was expected to sign executive orders Wednesday barring visas from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, according to congressional aides and immigration experts who spoke to Reuters.
He was also expected to ban refugees entering the United States for several months, except in cases of religious minorities escaping persecution, until stricter vetting is in place, the sources told the news agency.
The president tweeted late Tuesday that a "big day" was planned on national security.
Although NBC News was unable to confirm the reports detailing his executive order, the reports alone provoked an angry backlash.
"Donald Trump is making good on the most shameful and discriminatory promises he made on the campaign trail," said the National Iranian American Council, a Washington-based non-profit organization. "He called for a Muslim ban and is now taking the first steps to implement one. This will not stand. The American people are better than this."
The organization called the reported executive order a "fundamental challenge to what America represents," and claimed that "Donald Trump appears intent on throwing that America away and taking us down a slippery slope towards a dark future."
The NIAC, which says it is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of Iranian-Americans, added that "a blanket ban based on national origin does nothing" to make America safe from terror.
People living in Iran were equally scathing of the reported move.
"I don’t have the money or the inclination to travel to the United States but to be branded a threat or a terrorist is deeply offensive," Mohammed Reza Jafari, a 37-year-old bank teller, told NBC News. "Iranians are proud and dignified people this is absolutely the wrong way to treat us."
The move was "certainly going to make things harder for Iranians who want to go to America ... there are a lot of Iranians who have family in America and regularly visit and you can’t just stop that," said Shahin, a Tehran travel agent who asked to be identified by his first name only.
During his presidential campaign, Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," a controversial policy suggestion he said would protect America against jihadist attacks. He also pledged to "suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies."
Given this statement by Trump, Kheyre wondered why Saudi Arabia was not on the list of seven countries reportedly facing a visa-ban, as most of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of the Gulf Arab country.
Also absent from Trump's reported list were Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are a base of operations for a number of extremist groups.
Meanwhile, Bana al-Abed, the seven-year-old girl who became famous her tweets documenting life in war-torn eastern Aleppo, wrote an open letter to Trump, asking him to "do something" for children in Syria.
Alexander Smith reported from London.