Posted by Joan Hanna on February 07, 2017 in Blog
Nine middle school, high school and college students who set out to organize a protest in Lexington, KY around the Muslim ban got a response they never imagined. Some 1,000 people came out to join them in voicing their concerns on Sunday.
Bayan Megariaf, one of the organizers from Tates Creek High School, is Libyan American and has become deeply concerned about the Trump Administration’s policies towards refugees, immigrants, American Muslims and those of Arab descent. “We just want people to know that without immigrants this country [would be] nothing. This ban is illegal, inhumane, and un-American. We wanted Lexington to unite against this injustice... It's been a crazy journey, but [it’s] all worth it because we get to stand up for our country and the morals it was built upon.”
The rally came together in a matter of days as the organizers used social media and word of mouth to publicize it. They invited religious and political officials to speak, and encouraged refugees, immigrants, allies and anyone else who wanted to join to stand with them. Megariaf reflected, “We were very proud of ourselves…just a group of students that are daughters of immigrants, first and second generation Americans, managed to accomplish something this big.”
Another rally participant, Stephanie Oghia, is also a daughter of immigrants. Her mother came to the U.S. from Beirut and her father from Cairo. “As a first generation American of Middle Eastern parents, I was moved to tears during and after the event. As someone who has benefited from immigration to the US, I stand with refugees and my fellow Arabs/Middle Eastern brothers and sisters. There is nothing more un-American than an immigration ban that targets brown skin, and I refuse to sit back and not fight.”
Oghia commented that she has hope for the future, especially if young people continue to get involved like the students who organized this protest. “I was most impressed with the organizers of the protest. A group of eighth grade and high school students put this protest together. I am in awe of these young leaders, and am happy that they are part of the next generation fighting for an inclusive America. These youth from my community will do big things in this world and they give me hope.”