Local Muslims reflect on immigration ban, direction of country
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Local Muslims had plenty to say this week about President Donald Trump’s executive order on Jan. 28 that temporarily bans certain immigrants from entering the United States.
Refugees are banned from entering the country for 120 days and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations can’t come in for three months. The countries affected are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
Protests have sprung up all across the nation, including airports. Orlando International Airport and Daytona Beach International Airport both had protests on Sunday.
“It’s very difficult. It was unpredicted. We never thought this would happen in our country. This does not represent America, our values or the principals, which this nation was founded on,” said Imam Belal Shemman of the Islamic Center of Daytona Beach. “I think these executive orders are unconstitutional and go against our morals as Americans and humans.’’
Shemman, who is from Yemen, added, “I know people that have been hit by this directly. These executive orders harm many families. You have children that are here or there. Some are here while their parents are overseas and vice versa.”
Detained at airport
Muhammad Morshed said he was detained on Monday for 30 minutes at Orlando International Airport after returning from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Morshed is originally from Bangladesh. He has lived in the U.S. for 17 years and held American citizenship for 12 years.
“I didn’t know anything about it until they stopped me. That’s when I knew something was going on.
They asked me to use my password to open my cell phone. They looked through my phone. They asked, ‘Why do I go to these countries? What did I do there?’ It’s scary. I’ve never had this happened to me,” Morshed told the Daytona Times.
Student asks why
Azminah Ouda is a student at Daytona State College student. Her mother is African-American and her father is Egyptian.
“They say it’s for security reasons. Then why don’t they ban on places where terrorists come from like Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan? The ban doesn’t include nations that Trump has business like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Iraq is in complete chaos,” she remarked.
“You ban people from there after you destroyed that country. I know a girl from Syria whose family was well off there. They saw horrific things. Most Syrians are fleeing the brutality of both Assad and ISIS,” she added.
‘We need help’
On Monday, six people were shot dead in a mosque in Quebec, Canada, during prayer services.
“We are asking our people to be alert and aware. We are extending our hand to everyone. We need help. We need people coming out and view this horrific incident as a terrorist attack. You can’t pick and choose. We will continue to protect our community, mosque and everyone in the community. We stand with solidarity and send our condolences to those affected by this gruesome crime,” Shemman stated.
Muslim leaders are continuing to educate people about Trump’s executive order.
“We are telling people that as American citizens we must respond and fight for our rights legally. We will not do it as Muslims but as Americans and human beings. The world is watching us and wondering what is going on in this country. The U.S. shows itself to the world as a nation of freedom, which welcomes others and gives opportunities,’’ Shemman continued.
On terrorism, ISIS
Shemman warns against labeling all Muslims in one category.
He explained, “In these seven countries, there are 180 million people. Many are running away from war and terrorism. Some are women and children, doctors, professors and more. Muslims are fighting terrorism and ISIS.
“Muslims are saying that the United States and its coalition of nations are on our side. This ban allows terrorists to recruit the uneducated by saying look at this – the U.S. and its allies are against all Muslims. Muslims who come to the U.S. want a better life. They don’t want to hurt anybody. They want the American dream. ISIS is a few thousand people out of 1.5 billion Muslims. Terrorism is a threat to all of humanity.”
He pointed out how immigrants have contributed to America’s success.
“In the long run, I think this ban creates many problems. We must build bridges of love and understanding. This is a nation of immigrants,’’ Shemman added.
“Historically African-Americans built this country. Also some of the smartest people in this nation were immigrants. Steve Jobs’ father was Syrian. Twenty-five percent of doctors in this country are Muslims.’’
Shemman is encouraged by the support the Muslim community is receiving.
He said, “Most of the protesters aren’t Muslims. People are protesting because they feel that their humanity is being attacked. I thank the actors, celebrities and congressman that are speaking up against this injustice. Like Dr. (Martin Luther) King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is injustice to peace anywhere.’ ”
No turning back
In the end, Shemman has faith that everything will work out.
“I really have trust and confidence in our American people. We cannot go backwards. Historically African-Americans went through so much more and worse,’’ he said.
“People kept silent and you saw what happened. We can’t go back to that. If we don’t speak up, anything could happen. We must spread love and embrace each other. We are Americans. When we hear voices of separation, we must address it, unite and spread unity and love.”