Posted by Raneem Alkhatib on January 30, 2017 in Blog
by Raneem Alkhatib
Arab Americans across the country took immediate action over the weekend following President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration and refugees. The order was basically a Muslim ban, aiming to halt entry for citizens of seven Muslim majority countries. Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen are, so far, the countries on this list. Arab Americans, many of who are directly affected by this ban, went to their nearest airport to join in organic protests calling for the release of those detained. From New York to San Francisco to Texas, people from every background joined together to stand for refugees and immigrants.
Some protester signs, spotted in the Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) read, “No Hate. No Fear,” “Diversity Makes Us Great,” and “We Are All Immigrants.” Also in Detroit, Arab Americans protested, “we are people, we are not illegal.”
“Yesterday’s demonstration at the Detroit airport was amazing. You had people from all walks of life,” said Arab-American Civil Rights League Chair and AAI National Policy Council (NPC) Member Nasser Beydoun. He added, “This movement needs to be nurtured and if it is, it has the potential to bring America back from the brink of racism, intolerance and hatred. This movement could be critical in reaffirming our values, America’s values, as a beacon of light.” Joining the large crowd at Detroit’s airport were Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, Wayne County Executive, Warren Evans, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Congressman Abduallah Hamood, Dearborn City Council President, Susan Dabaja, and Dearborn City Council Member, Mike Sareini.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), the signs were urging Customs and Border Protection to let the detainees free, calling the ban “absurd.” Emad Salem, a Committeeman for the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee and AAI member, posted on his Facebook, “This is what Democracy looks like. This is what America looks like. Those are the chants at the DFW airport today. All detainees were released. Thank you DFW. It was amazing today. Over 3,000 people were at terminal D. Thank you for everyone who came out and/or stood in support.”
In the Philadelphia International Airport, thousands of people came, including elected officials. “It was amazing to see all these people come to the Philly airport, including Mayor Jim Kenney, Governor Tom Wolf, U.S. Senator Bob Casey and Congress members Bob Brady and Dwight Evans. It was diverse group all standing for the best of America and wanting to see our proud tradition of immigration and welcoming refugees continue,” Marwan Kreidie, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Arab-American Development Corps and an AAI NPC member said.
Jehan Hakim, of the Asian Law Caucus, who attended the protest in California said, “I took my daughters to the San Francisco International Airport [SFO] yesterday to show them that civic engagement matters. We felt energized as we stood up for other families of Yemeni descent, in solidarity with other Middle Eastern and Muslim folks coming into SFO and against bigotry. We will keep advocating against this travel ban as long as it remains," said Hakim.
Rachel Gabriel, an Arab American of Egyptian descent, also protested in DC at the White House against the ban. "It is my privilege as an American to be able to protest injustice and my duty as a human being to stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves”, she said.
Raneem Alkhatib is a Winter 2017 intern with the Arab American Institute