On this anniversary of the Muslim ban, I can’t stop thinking about the 5-year-old American boy ensnared by the first iteration of the Muslim ban.
The still-unidentified citizen from Maryland was handcuffed and detained for hours, but the humiliation didn’t end there. Then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to defend the indefensible by erroneously labeling him a potential “security threat.”
I was about the Maryland boy’s age when I came to the United States from Lebanon. Like many of those impacted by the executive order, my family had traded the uncertainty of war for the safer uncertainty of a new home in what my parents called, in their native Arabic, “Amreeka.”
In the days after the Muslim ban was instituted, I watched images of Muslim immigrants speaking to reporters after hours of detention and questioning.Again and again, reporters asked the travelers variations of the same question: “What do you say to America?”
“I love the American people,” they responded in a diversity of languages and dialects representing the gradations of a Muslim community globally impacted by the newly-inaugurated American president’s first Muslim ban. That order, subsequently struck down by the courts, suspended resettlement of refugees and barred the entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
I was stunned.