As American Muslims, it was horrifying to hear that our new president, Donald Trump, signed an executive order last week banning all citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya. Citizens from these countries were not allowed to enter the U.S. for three months, even if they had a valid visa or green card. The Trump administration believed that this ban would prevent potential terrorists from entering the U.S. Not surprisingly, this so-called “Muslim Ban” was met with much criticism. Hundreds of incoming travelers from the seven countries were detained, and protesters swarmed airports and cities across the nation, throwing the country into chaos.
After a week of confusion, a federal judge temporarily blocked Trump’s travel ban on Friday, February 3. This is great news, but the Trump administration plans to appeal this decision and reinstate the ban. Clearly, this is going to be a long and difficult legal battle.
Credit: @activistnyc on Instagram
What does this mean for you as a Muslim traveler? Here are the top 7 things you need to know.
1. Most people did not actually believe that Trump would ban Muslims.
Trump proposed the Muslim travel ban early during his campaign in an attempt to show how tough he was and to appeal to far-right conservatives. Most people, even members of Trump’s own party, just dismissed it as a way for him to get more votes. The nation was completely shocked when he actually signed the order.
2. No one understands why these 7 countries were chosen
People are confused as to why Trump banned these specific countries, since refugees from these countries have carried out zero fatal terrorist attacks in the U.S. Additionally, the September 11 attacks were cited as a reason for the ban, but all 19 of the hijackers were from either Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, or the UAE — none of which were even included in the ban.
3. Muslims are canceling their travel plans to and from the U.S.
Even Muslim American citizens are hesitating to travel outside the U.S. due to fears they won’t be allowed back in. If you live outside the U.S. and are planning to visit soon, we’d recommend extreme caution. Although the ban has temporarily been lifted, there is still a high probability that if you’re Muslim and/or flying in from any Muslim-majority country, you may be detained at a U.S. airport for an unspecified amount of time. We’ve even heard reports that visitors with a stamp in their passport from any of the seven countries were not being allowed to enter. Unfortunately, there is very little clarity on these policies and it’s too early in the Trump presidency to predict what will happen.
Note: If you are detained, call CAIR (a Muslim American civil rights and advocacy group) at +1-202-742-6420.
If you decide to change or cancel your ticket, some airlines are offering refunds in light of the ban.
4. Anti-Muslim attacks are on the rise
Muslim make up only 1% of the U.S. population, so many Americans have never actually met a Muslim. Unfortunately, their only perception of Islam is what they see on TV – ISIS, suicide bombings, oppression of women, etc. As a result, hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise. Some mosques have been vandalized or even burnt down like this one in Texas.
In Quebec City, Canada, a young, pro-Trump Christian terrorist killed 6 Muslim men during prayer and injured 19 others.
5. People of all races, faiths and backgrounds are fighting for Muslims
Because of the ban, airports throughout the U.S. have been swarmed with protesters of all races and religions. We also went to our local airport to protest – video here – and it was tremendously uplifting. This picture from Chicago’s airport of Muslims and Jews protesting together went viral.
Many non-Muslim American women are wearing the hijab in solidarity. At some airports, protesters have even formed a protective circle around Muslims as they pray at airports, cheering them on and chanting “You Pray, We Stay!”
#HHWT Note: Here’s one of Muslims praying on the streets of Brooklyn.
Credit: @lsarsour on Instagram
And that mosque in Texas that was burned down? Its Jewish neighbors gave the Muslims the keys to their synagogue.
6. Celebrities are speaking out and raising money for Muslims
Celebrities all around the world are standing up for Muslims and against hate and discrimination. Millions of dollars for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have been raised in the just the past week. The majority of the U.S. is upset with this new administration; in fact, no other president in American history has had a lower approval rating than Donald Trump.
7. People are exercising their economic rights to boycott companies and support Muslims
Over 200,000 people deleted their Uber accounts after Uber allegedly attempted to profit off of Trump’s Muslim Ban. Many people are now switching to Lyft, the competitor who has donated $1 million to the ACLU to fight for Muslim and minorities’ rights.
Airbnb is offering free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed to stay in the U.S. The company is also allowing users to volunteer their homes to host people for free. Amazing!
People from all over the world have donated over 1 million dollars to rebuild the masjid that burned down in Texas.
Starbucks announced a plan to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.
Love trumps hate, always.
Overall, we have been overwhelmed by the goodness and compassion that our fellow Americans have shown during this challenging time. We are dealing with the unprecedented normalization of discrimination in America but we will continue to keep our heads up and resist. This is not just a Muslim struggle; it’s a human one. Please keep humanity in your duas and pray that peace and justice prevail across the world.