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Tweets and the Travel Ban: A Shocking Week for Arab Americans

posted on: Dec 6, 2017

Tweets and the Travel Ban: A Shocking Week for Arab Americans

By: Michaela Schrum/Arab America Contributing Writer
It’s been an eventful week, to say the least as two pertinent issues affecting the Arab American community, including President Trump’s inflammatory Tweets directed against Muslims and the Supreme Court’s reinstatement of the Trump travel ban directed against Muslim counties.

Trump’s Inflammatory Tweets

Last week, President Trump retweeted a series of video clips posted by Jayda Fransen, a known Anti-Muslim activist in the United Kingdom, and the deputy leader of an organization called Britain First

All three of the tweets showed people of color, who Trump refers to as Muslims, committing various atrocities.

This first video shows a boy fighting another boy who is on crutches. The boy who instigates the fight was labeled as a Muslim by President Trump, again without any indication that that was how the boy would have identified himself.

In this second video, two men destroy a statue of the Virgin Mary. one of the men is wearing a thobe and a head covering and fits the American stereotype of what a Muslim looks like.

In this third video, a man runs around on a roof carrying what looks like to be the flag of ISIS. Then men push a couple of other men off of the second tier of the roof onto the roof of the building below.

While the images in these videos are terrible and saddening, they are not accurate representations of what the 1.8 billion Muslims of the world do in their spare time. Thankfully, President Trump has received much backlash for retweeting Fransen’s posts from citizens inside the United States and out.

A spokesperson for Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK said: “It is wrong for the President to have done this, ‘Britain First’ seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. ”

Tweets and the Travel Ban: A Shocking Week for Arab Americans

The Department of State warned the Trump administration of possible backlash from Muslim majority countries and they are currently deciding whether or not a more substantial official statement is needed to calm the storm. There is even uncertainty as to whether or not these videos are real or not.

The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stated in a press conference about the issue:“Whether it is a real video, the threat is real.That is what the President is talking about, that is what the President is focused on is dealing with those real threats, and those are real no matter how you look at it.”

Tweets and the Travel Ban: A Shocking Week for Arab Americans

Photo: CNN.com

This is not the first time that President Trump has targeted minority groups in the United States or Muslim communities in particular. And based off of the tweet he sent out directed to Prime Minister Theresa May hours after her condemnation of these tweets, he showed that he was not beneath going further.

Ibrahim Hooper is the National Communications Director and spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said that it was “beyond belief that the president of the United States would retweet hate material regarding a religious minority.” Hooper also stated that he believed the British Prime Minister’s reaction was completely appropriate and should have been the reaction of everyone in the United States.

We asked him why he thought the tweets stayed online after the backlash. Hooper said, “Trump wants to make it clear that he hates Islam and is okay with hostility towards the Muslim community- he doesn’t care- he sees himself as the president of only one part of the country.”  

Tweets and the Travel Ban: A Shocking Week for Arab Americans

Reinstatement of the Muslim Ban

This past Monday, the Supreme Court took all of this one step further. The highest court in the land ruled that the newest version of President Trump’s travel ban could go through. This ban will affect people from Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Chad, Somalia, Venezuela and North Korea. Most of these countries have a majority Muslim population, and previous attempts made by the president to pass this ban have been met with significant backlash.

People around the world refer to this as the “Muslim Ban” because of President Trump’s previous hate speech regarding the religion and its followers. It also follows the fact that the majority of the countries listed are in fact countries with Muslim majority populations.

Ashley Houghton, the tactical campaigns manager at Amnesty International USA, released the following statement: “This ban has always been, at its core, deeply cruel and discriminatory. It goes against our shared American values of dignity and equality for everyone, no matter where you come from or how you worship. Rather than keep anyone safe, the travel ban has caused chaos and instability for thousands of people who just want to travel without fear and be reunited with their families.”

Tweets and the Travel Ban: A Shocking Week for Arab Americans

Denyse Sabagh is the head of the immigration practice group under Duane Morris, a law office in Washington DC. When asked in the early stages of this development what she thought about this decision, She said: “At the end of the day, they are hurting people who have already been vetted in the immigration process. These are people who have already gone through background checks. These people are stuck now. This affects families and employers”. Sabagh also clarified that this ban includes immigrants from these countries in most cases (except for Venezuela, whose ban is apparently exclusive to visiting Venezuelan government officials and their families) as well as some types of non-immigrant visa seekers. “There is no reason for that. This ban prohibits immigrants and certain non-immigrants with no foundational reason”, Sabagh commented.

Upon reflection on past travel bans from other administrations, Sabagh agrees that what is different this time around is the President’s blatant regard for Muslim people. Sabagh stated “Apparently, the Supreme Court disregarded the tweets… didn’t take them into consideration” when referring to President Trump’s retweeting of Jayda Fransen’s anti-muslim tweets from last week.

Tweets and the Travel Ban: A Shocking Week for Arab Americans

According to Sabagh, the next step to take is to watch the decisions that will be made at Maryland’s lower level court whether or not to allow immigrants from these countries with a bonafide relationship (nuclear family member, grandparent, or aunt or uncle) to someone in the United States. This case went to court before the decision at the Supreme court was made on Monday, but coincidentally, the Maryland courts were supposed to hear this case in the next coming weeks.

Tweets and the Travel Ban: A Shocking Week for Arab Americans

Arab America encourages those affected to contact their local ACLU offices or their immigration lawyers for more information.