A Dearborn Muslim-American reflects on Trump’s travel ban

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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.”

More: Michigan Sheriff tells ICE: We won’t detain immigrants without warrant

More: Marine’s mom: My son is a U.S. citizen, why was he detained by ICE?

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.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DETROIT FREE PRESS 

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How an old, far-right meme about Muslim ‘prayer rugs’ at the border became a Trump tweet

U.S. President Donald Trump sits at his desk during an interview with ReutersOn Friday morning, the President of the United States tweeted about a two-day-old Washington Examiner article with an unsubstantiated claim from one anonymous rancher.

“There’s a lot of people coming in not just from Mexico,” the rancher had told the newspaper. Then, without offering further proof, the rancher said that “people, the general public, just don’t get the terrorist threats of that. That’s what’s really scary. You don’t know what’s coming across. We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal. It’s not just Mexican nationals that are coming across.”

Trump quoted the line about prayer rugs, adding: “People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.”

Donald J. Trump

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Border rancher: “We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.” Washington Examiner People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.

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The anonymous rancher’s comment about prayer rugs — one that has now been repeated by the president to support his proposed border wall during the partial government shutdown — is similar to the claims of a conspiracy theory that has long been popular with far-right and anti-Muslim figures and publications. And the rumor itself has been invoked to support a larger, debunked claim from a far-right group that Islamic State operatives have established a massive training camp at the border.

It is a claim that conflates an item used by some practicing Muslims with a sign of terrorists — the false implication being that any association with the Islamic faith is itself worthy of suspicion.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said the meme was “Islamophobic.”

“It exploits the Islamophobia promoted by the president himself,” Hooper told The Washington Post, “and it dog whistles that anything associated with Islam is somehow connected to terrorism.”

“Even if there were prayer rugs at the border, so what? That isn’t any indication of anything expect that there may have been a Muslim trying to cross the border,” he added, noting that Trump is simply “trying to distract from his own legal and political problems.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

What a Muslim Could Teach Trump Supporters About Jesus

merlin_148323441_f8d6e8cd-6cc0-4408-bf02-86e6eac5fd60-superJumbo.jpgAt Bellarmine, an all-boys Catholic school in San Jose, Calif., I was often the token Muslim and probably the only person who began freshman year thinking the Eucharist sounded like the name of a comic book villain. I eventually learned it’s a ritual commemorating the Last Supper. At the monthly Masses that were part of the curriculum, that meant grape juice and stale wafers were offered to pimpled, dorky teenagers as the blood and body of Christ.

During my time there, I also read the King James Bible and stories about Jesus, learned about Christian morality, debated the Trinity with Jesuit priests and received an A every semester in religious studies class. Twenty years later, I can still recite the “Our Father” prayer from memory.

Growing up, I’d been taught that Jesus was a major prophet in Islam, known as “Isa” and also referred to as “ruh Allah,” the spirit of God born to the Virgin Mary and sent as a mercy to all people. Like Christians, we Muslims believe he will return to fight Dajjal, or the Antichrist, and establish peace and justice on earth. But it was everything I learned in high school that came together to make me love Jesus in a way that made me a better Muslim.

Even though I don’t personally celebrate Christmas, the season always makes me think of his legacy of radical love. This year, it’s especially hard to understand how Trump-supporting Christians have turned their back on that unconditional love and exchanged it for nativism, fear and fealty to a reality TV show host turned president.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

The Effects of the Muslim Ban One Year Later

By Manar Waheed, Legislative and Advocacy Counsel, ACLU
DECEMBER 4, 2018 | 1:45 PM

Exactly one year ago today, the Supreme Court allowed the full implementation of web18-cbpofficerimmigrationline-1160x768Trump’s Muslim ban. It would be months still before it heard oral arguments in Hawaii v. Trump and issued its ruling on June 26, allowing the ban to remain in place. But on Dec. 4, 2017, America began to ban millions of Muslims from the United States, even if they have family members, jobs, academic spots, or other compelling connections here, and even if they would otherwise be fully entitled to receive a visa to come here.

This day goes down in the history books, not only as an enormous failure to live up to our values of religious and racial equality, but for the real impact that the ban has on people’s lives. Take Anahita, who never got to say goodbye to her father in Iran before he passed away and did not even get to mourn with her family. Or Nisrin, who was detained during the chaotic implementation of the first Muslim ban simply because of her Sudanese citizenship, although she has lived in the United States for 25 years. Let’s also not forget the numerous students afraid to return home to visit their families because their visas may not be reissued. Or the families now traveling thousands of miles and spending thousands of dollars to simply be able to hug someone they love at a library on the border of Canada and the United States.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ACLU WEBSITE 

Do Republicans Believe in Religious Liberty for Muslims?

181129-Obeidallah-Ilhan-Omar-tease_edcminIlhan Omar, the first hijab-wearing member of Congress, will be seated next January. Will Republicans back a rule change ensuring her right to wear it on the floor?

Donald Trump and his GOP talk and talk about their love of “religious liberty.” In May, there was Trump declaring that religious freedom is a “priority” of his administration.  And in July, Trump’s Department of Justice even announced the formation of a religious liberty task force.

Well, if Trump and the GOP truly believe that religious liberty is not just for Christians, then here’s a no-brainer for them. The Republicans in the House should unanimously support a recently proposed rule to ensure religious liberty for a soon-to-be-sworn-in Muslim member of Congress and push back against the anti-Muslim voices in their party when they attack this change—which, if history is any guide, they will!

Come January 3, 2019, Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN) will be the first Muslim member of Congress ever to wear a hijab (head scarf). The problem is that a House rule enacted in 1837 bans any type of headwear, which would include Omar’s headscarf.

In response, Democratic House leader and expected next speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has formally proposed to ditch this 181-year-old ban on headwear in order to “ensure religious expression.” As Pelosi explained to NBC News, “After voters elected the most diverse Congress in history, clarifying the antiquated rule banning headwear will further show the remarkable progress we have made as a nation.”

This rule, while on the books, doesn’t seem to have been enforced. As AshLee Strong, the spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, explained in an email, “Under both Republican and Democratic Speakers, the House has never prohibited any kind of religious headwear.” That’s great to hear. But forgive me if I’m not quite reassured.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY BEAST 

How Muslims Became The Enemy

<> on June 26, 2018 in Washington, DC.The new Islamophobia looks like the old McCarthyism.

These days, our global political alliances seem to shift with remarkable rapidity, as if we were actually living in George Orwell’s 1984. Are we at war this month with Oceania? Or is it Eastasia? In that novel, the Party is able to erase history, sending old newspaper articles down the Ministry of Truth’s “memory hole” and so ensuring that, in the public mind, the enemy of the moment was always the enemy. Today, there is one constant, though. The Trump administration has made Muslims our enemy of the first order and, in its Islamophobia, is reinforced by an ugly resurgence of fascism in Germany, Italy, Hungary, and other European countries.

It’s hard today even to imagine that, in the late 1980s, the rightwing Christian Voice Magazine published a “candidate’s biblical scoreboard,” urging its readers (and potential voters) to rate their politicians by how “biblically” they cast their ballots in Congress. One key measure of this: Did that legislator support the anti-Communist Muslim jihadis in Afghanistan, a cause warmly supported by evangelist Pat Robertson in his 1988 presidential campaign? Now, attempting to appeal to twenty-first-century evangelicals, President Trump has announced that “Islam hates us.”

 

The kaleidoscope of geopolitics and Islamophobia is now spinning so fast that it should make our heads spin, too. At times, it seems as if Donald Trump is the anti-Ronald Reagan of the twenty-first century, idolizing former KGB operative Vladimir Putin, but seeing former U.S. allies in the Muslim world like Pakistan as purveyors of “nothing but lies and deceit” ― until, that is, with bewildering rapidity, he suddenly gives us the “good” (that is, oil-rich) Muslims again, willingly performing a sword dance with the Saudi royals, seemingly entirely comfortable with the scimitar of the Saracen.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

Faith communities are mobilizing against Trump’s family separation policy

BORDER PATROL

On April 6, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions first announced the so-called “zero-tolerance policy” at the border between the US and Mexico, he shepherded in a practice of government-sanctioned abduction of more than 2,500 children from their parents that rightfully drew widespread public outrage. Sessions was quick to reference scripture in its defense: “Obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes” (Romans 13:1).

The Bible passage Sessions twisted to serve his political purposes is the same one later echoed by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to justify the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies. It is the same passage that, once upon a time, was used to justify the enslavement of people from Africa. And it is the same passage used by the Nazis to justify the Holocaust.

As faith leaders from Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, we won’t sit idly by while holy texts are used to perpetuate injustice, the closing off of borders to those in need, and the inhumane treatment of children and families. For the past week, we have led the multi-faith community in a “Week of Witness” that included lullaby sing-alongs and prayer vigils in congregations across the country to raise awareness of the hundreds of children still separated from their parents a month after the court-ordered reunification deadline, and to share a message of love to those in detention that may feel unwelcome or alone.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HILL