Many may think that President Donald Trump’s travel ban policy on the Muslim majority countries of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen only affect newcomers to the United States.
The travel ban has caused a stir for Muslims in the west as well.
With protests and rallies taking place throughout the United States and Canada either condemning Trump’s plan or supporting it, the entire idea of the Muslim ban has reached new heights and it may seem like it is something that doesn’t affect our society directly.
So this raises the question, how does this make Muslims in the west feel?
“To say that I’m disappointed and crushed is an understatement.” says Shayvard Asvar, a second-year police foundations student who immigrated to Canada from Iran with her mother 12 years ago.
“One thing I’ve learned is that, sadly, history repeats itself but this is something I never thought I would witness in my lifetime.” she said. “It’s such an exaggerated step backwards. Here we have this leader that promotes ethnocentrism and an us versus them mentality. It is dangerous and very, very sad.”
But Asvar remains hopeful. “I know that a lot of people are concerned about Trudeau’s policies on immigration and refugees, but I feel like somewhere in the world someone needs to set an example and I think that’s what Canada is doing. Hopefully other countries will notice and follow.”
Bayan Kaid, a third-year advertising and marketing student and the daughter of a Yemeni diplomat, came to Canada in 2003 from New York. She leaves behind extended family in the U.S. and expresses her concern for their well-being given the rise in hate crimes against Muslims.
“I’m worried about my family that lives there, just because of everything that’s happening, especially in New York.”
Although the Muslim ban doesn’t apply to Kaid because she was born in the United States, she still does not plan on visiting any time soon.
“Now since there’s a lot of racism and Islamophobia going on I feel uneasy about going there, or any Muslims living there.”
For Kauthar Katheer, a first-year human resource management student and a first generation Canadian of an Iraqi immigrant family, the ban as an opportunity to further embrace her Arab heritage and Muslim religion. Although the ban on Iraq has been lifted, she feels that the conflict still affects her.
“I used to feel like I had to conform to society’s standards, but now I enjoy being different, like yes I wear a hijab and I’m Muslim and I have different beliefs than you and that’s okay.” said Katheer.
“If anything this makes me want to practice my religion more and embrace my culture, be proud and show people that we’re not all the same.” expressed Katheer.
“When I saw the reaction of people that were protesting, it wasn’t a small amount, it was thousands of people. When I was watching those videos I actually teared up because I didn’t know people cared about us like that and we had a lot of people on our side.” added Katheer.