Viber offers free calls to countries affected by Trump immigration ban

30 Jan 2017

Donald Trump, US president. Image: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

Viber has joined the rising tide of tech companies fighting back against a recent ‘immigration ban’ that’s provoking widespread protests in the US.

Donald Trump’s executive order to ban immigration from a list of Middle Eastern countries has provoked significant ire.

The order bans immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries for the next 90 days. It also indefinitely suspends the entry of Syrian refugees into the US.

Legal professionals, major businesses and the general public have been mobilised throughout the US, showing their disdain for an order that appears, at the very least, excessively offensive.

Over the weekend, a plethora of senior tech figures aired their concerns over social media, with everyone from Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella and Apple’s Tim Cook, to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla’s Elon Musk getting involved.

The latest company to join this movement is Viber, with its novel offering of free calls between the US and each of the affected countries.

“In light of recent events in the US, we are now offering free calls to any landline or mobile number between the US and Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, so that those affected will now have one less barrier to cross when trying to reach their loved ones,” reads the company’s statement.

The news follows similar moves by other tech companies, including Airbnb’s creative idea to cover the costs of hosts’ properties for those left stranded outside the US.

“Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right, and we must stand with those who are affected,” Aribnb CEO Brian Chesky said.

“Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone else who needs it in the event they are denied the ability to board a US-bound flight and are not in your city/country of residence. We have 3m homes, so we can definitely find people a place to stay.”

In a statement on Facebook responding to the public outcry, US president Donald Trump defended the order, claiming the seven countries named were those listed by his predecessor’s administration as “sources of terror”.

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” reads the statement. “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.”

Meanwhile US senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham issued a joint statement, saying: “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

Donald Trump, US president. Image: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic