President Trump’s travel ban galvanizes South Florida Muslim community

February 8, 2017

West Palm Beach, Fla. - As she prepares for exams and homework deadlines, Palm Beach Atlantic University biology student Meram Alamoudi worries Muslims coming to and living in America are being targeted just like Japanese-Americans and Jews were during World War II.


“It’s fundamentally wrong,” Alamoudi said. “I feel like it’s racist and xenophobic.”


The reason Alamoudi feels this way is because of President Donald Trump’s executive order placing a 120-day moratorium on Muslim refugees entering the U.S.


The original order also called for a 90-day ban on citizens traveling from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.


Just as the U.S. government turned away thousands of Jewish refugees - because wrote that the State Department and President Franklin Roosevelt feared these immigrants posed a threat as possible Nazi spies - now, President Trump cites the same national security concern.


“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorism out of the USA. We don’t want them here,” President Trump said.


Alamoudi said it isn’t right to ban people from traveling based on their ethnicity and religion.


“What makes me really upset is that these people have green cards and visas. They’ve gone through the exhausting screenings,” she said. “They’re NYU students, they’re Yale students, some of them are soldiers, immigrant lawyers. Even a U.S. citizen was held for 19 hours. I feel like that is fundamentally wrong.”


Muslim Community of Palm Beach County board member Mohamed Pazhoor wants to change the perception that many in South Florida have about the Muslim community. With more than 100,000 Muslims living in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, according to the Miami-Herald, Pazhoor said all they can do is voice their concern.


Pazhoor insists Muslims in the area are law-abiding citizens that love America just as much as any other American does, if not more.


The idea that certain rights of Muslims are being denied - leading to an unjust outcome - is not just coming from Pazhoor, but also non-Muslim Americans.


Cynthia Foster, a Jewish American, attended a travel ban protest at Palm Beach International Airport on January 29. She was one of several hundred who chose to fight for the Muslim community on that particular Sunday.


Foster argues that if things don’t change, people will have to live an inhabitable future.


“I am sick at heart. My family only got here approximately 100 years ago, and they weren’t wanted here either,” Foster said. “The far right were screaming that the Jews would bring communism here and the far left were screaming that the Jews would bring capitalism here.”


Amna, a Muslim American who also attended the protest at PBIA, believes the travel ban is an unfair policy.

“If you want to make America safe, you spread love and peace. That’s the only way,” she said.


While Amna agrees criminals who commit terrorist acts should be punished, she said the ban proposed by Trump is not the correct way to go about it.


“This is an injustice. The refugees are innocent people,” Amna said. “We want to hold the criminals accountable; but we don’t want to hold innocent people, people who are running for their safety because their country is being bombed.”

Back on PBA’s campus, Alamoudi worries people have forgotten the sins of America’s past. They study what was fundamentally wrong when the U.S. imprisoned Japanese-Americans during World War II; but still, Alamoudi said, they somehow are okay with what is happening now.


“I feel very angry,” Alamoudi said, “I’m just as American as you are. So, why are you treating me differently?”





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