At office water coolers and in 10 a.m. tea breaks across the country today there was one sure topic: Donald Trump’s so-dubbed #MuslimBan. On Friday 27th January the newly elected President of the United States, Donald Trump, made the executive command to shut the US borders to citizens of seven predominantly Islamic countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – for 90 days.
Announcing the order Trump echoed the divisive, inflammatory rhetoric that carried his Presidency bid: “I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want ’em here,” Trump declared. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”
The ban has unsurprisingly sparked outrage and fear across the United States and the wider world. Just a week after the Women’s Rights March on Washington (and the sister marches held nation- and world-wide) in reaction to Trump’s Inauguration, thousands of citizens flocked to airports across America to challenge the ban; chanting “let them in!” and “no hatred, no fear, immigrants are welcome here!” protestors were joined by voluntary lawyers, gathering to defend detained and denied refugees and immigrants. The UN Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, has declared the ban illegal and immoral. “Discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law,” Ra’ad al Hussein said. “The US ban is also mean-spirited, and wastes resources needed for proper counter-terrorism.”
On social media millions took to their keyboards to vent their anger and horror, some inspired by First Daughter : in a photo posted to Instagram and Twitter in the midst of the humanitarian crisis, Ivanka poses in a gaudy silver dress with her husband. Many have called the poorly-timed move the modern day equivalent of “Let them eat cake!”
Here in the UK anger broiled over Prime Minister Theresa May’s initial response to the announcement. May, the first world leader to visit the new President this past weekend, found herself at the heart of international debate. Both Tory and Labour MPs criticised May’s initial reluctance to condemn Trump and continued positivity for Trump’s planned state visit to the UK. A petition banning Trump from being “invited to make an official State Visit” as it would “cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen” has now received over a million signatures, and will be discussed in Parliament on Tuesday 31st January. The petition’s creator, Graham Guest, told the : “A state visit legitimises his presidency and he will use the photo opportunities and being seen with the Queen to get re-elected.”
Those speaking out against the ban come from varying industries: politicians and world leaders, business and economics experts, sports people and celebrities from the world of entertainment. Significant spokespeople against the ban are immigrants or who have immigrant ancestry themselves, such as Olympian , activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner , supermodel , actress , comedian and (who trashed Trump’s argument in one tweet).
While the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) successfully halted deportations in federal court on Saturday evening, the ruling only covers those who were detained in airports and currently in transit at the time of being passed. For those who will be affected by the ban in the future the fight continues.
Passage taken from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, the poem that is inscribed on a plaque mounted by the Statue of Liberty.
So how can you help fight Donald Trump’s ‘#MuslimBan’? Head out to a local protest or organise your own and campaign for immigrant and refugee rights. Group together with friends and make posters, tee-shirts, bracelets, or even badges proclaiming your outrage; take photos, upload them to Instagram and inspire others to follow suit. Raise money for the now-stranded refugees through any one of the wonderful organisations dedicated to helping those fleeing war, violence and tragedy (such as , the , and ). Reach out to local Muslim and refugee communities, organise speakers to visit your school, library or town council to inspire others to help. Contact your local MP and lobby for the resettlement of refugees in your area. Tackle xenophobia and racism that you encounter in your day-to-day life, read up on the facts and stay aware of the truth. Welcome refugees and immigrants in your neighbourhood or even volunteer as a .
Let us hope that together, our many voices may drown out this terrible bigotry and hate.
Words by Esther Newman