Commentary: Trump wanted to keep Muslims out. Now Muslims are helping the country fight COVID-19.

Helene Cooper, a New York Times correspondent who is participating in the Moderna vaccine trial, during an exam at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, Sept. 9, 2020. Cooper was invited to participate in the vaccine trial because of her multiple risk factors: she is a Black woman, a Type 1 diabetic and asthmatic. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

Jan. 27, 2017, was an unforgettable day for American Muslims. President Donald Trump signed the first version of what would become known as the Muslim ban. It was the first discriminatory policy that the Trump administration implemented impacting thousands of people around the world, separating American families and harming vulnerable populations. There were many cases of green-card holders being detained despite the fact that they had been living in the United States for years and obtained their greens cards through legal immigration processes. The intention of this ban was clear in that it sought to exclude American Muslim communities from the fabric of this nation.

Despite intense opposition and criticism, the Trump administration further pushed for countless other policies that had the same discriminatory goal as the Muslim bans and targeted Muslim communities. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court allowed the third iteration of the Muslim ban to go into full effect on June 26, 2018.

More than two years later, nearing the end of Trump’s presidency, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over 80 million confirmed cases and 1.7 million deaths globally, with over 19 million cases and 333,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. Jobs were lost, entrepreneurs and small businesses struggled to stay afloat, economic inequality deepened, education switched to online learning, people isolated themselves, travel was restricted and more. Now, the light at the end of the tunnel, which has proved to be the vaccine, is finally here. The credit for developing it goes to a Muslim couple, scientists Ugur Sahin, a Turkish immigrant to Germany, and Ozlem Tureci, the daughter of a Turkish physician, who also migrated to Germany from Istanbul. The two scientists founded the BioNTech company, which teamed up with Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that was found to be more than 90 percent effective and is now being distributed in the U.S. and elsewhere along with another from Moderna.


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