Yesterday, I joined my Americans United colleagues in standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies and with the Muslim community to send President Donald J. Trump’s administration a clear message: There should be no Muslim ban, ever.
The No Muslim Ban Ever March, which started off at 11:30 a.m. in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., drew over 1,000 protesters from across the country. The march’s objective was stated as continuing “to resist this immoral and unconstitutional Muslim Ban and any new bans in all forms, in all venues, and in all ways – no matter how long it may take to achieve justice.”
The Muslim ban 3.0 was blocked by two federal judges, including in a case brought by Americans United with its allies, before it was set to go into effect yesterday. Despite that win, AU and allies know there’s still a lot of work ahead, and that’s why it was important to keep the momentum going with the No Muslim Ban Ever March.
Prior to marching, various speakers illustrated how inhumane the Muslim ban and attempts at a Muslim ban are by sharing their personal stories. A chant of “No ban, no wall, freedom for all” often accompanied applause after they spoke.
Holly Yasui, the daughter of Min Yasui, a lawyer who challenged the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII, was one of the first speakers, and she reminded us that we should learn from history, not repeat it.
“He [her father] believed it was unconstitutional and absolutely wrong for the U.S. government to single out and punish a group of people solely on the basis of race or national origin,” Yasui said. “2017 is not 1942, but sadly – shamefully – we hear echoes of the Japanese-American internment today… Back then, it was Japanese-Americans. Today, it is Muslims.”
We will continue to stand with our allies and with the Muslim community.
Yasui’s words are powerful and right. The Muslim ban is unconstitutional because it discriminates against Muslims based solely on their religion, and our country should learn from shameful moments in history, rather than attempt to target a different group.
People like Syrian-American Isra Chaker, a Muslim activist who was among the event’s speakers, are directly feeling the cruel impact and stress of the Muslim ban. Chaker, who works for Oxfam America, a nonprofit helping impoverished communities, highlighted how the ban is impacting her family.
“As a Syrian-American with majority of my family still inside Syria, I understand firsthand the devastation that discriminatory immigration restrictions have on families and communities,” Chaker said. “I haven’t seen my own family members in Syria since the conflict started almost seven years ago, and this administration, since coming into office, has sought to make sure that we would not be able to reunite in this home, in my home, the United States of America…. When we talk about the Muslim ban…. We are talking about decisions that impact the lives of real people.”
Another speaker, Ziad Nagi of the Yemeni American Merchants Association, shared a heartbreaking story of how his mother waited 18 months in Jordan for immigration approval but now has to go back to war-torn Yemen.
Stories like these continued to pour in throughout the event, and they remind us that discriminatory policies like the Muslim ban hurt real people. The Muslim ban discriminates against Muslim immigrants by telling them that they are not deserving of religious freedom, and that’s wrong.
I was very touched hearing many of the experiences people shared, and it made me proud to be a part of an organization like AU, one of the partners that endorsed the #NoMuslimBanEver campaign, and continues to fight the ban in court.
You can stand up and fight back, too. Join us in pledging that religious freedom is about fairness and that the United States should be a country where we don’t ban people based on their religion.