Mass protests broke out over the weekend across the United States following the implementation of an Executive Order signed by President Trump which barred citizens of seven Muslim majority countries from entering the country. The seven countries affected include: Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.
In addition to barring citizens of these countries from entering the States, the Executive Order also has suspended the United States’ Syrian refugee programme, which accepted 12,486 Syrians in 2016. It also gives preference to accepting Christian refugees from the Middle East over Muslim refugees and reduces the cap on the total number of refugees allowed to enter the US in 2017 from 110,000 to just 50,000.
The signing of this Executive Order sees Trump fulfill one of his most controversial campaign promises that seeks to rid the United States of ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ by having a ‘complete and total shut down of Muslims entering the United States’. The implementation of this order across all the major airports of the United States has caused chaos in terminals and garnered widespread condemnation from leaders, activists, scholars and celebrities worldwide.
The implementation of the order in all major US airports meant that people coming in from the countries listed, refugees and even green-card holders were subjected to intense ‘extreme vetting’ procedures and detained for hours in immigration or turned away and told to fly back. As news of these incidents filtered through social media, activists, scholars and leaders from different states sent out calls for people to mobilise and descend onto airport terminals in their thousands in protest against the ban and to pressurise immigration officers to release unduly detained individuals.
Some of the incidents that caused such a quick response included the detaining of grandmothers, parents and very small children.
Shaykh Omar Suleiman, Imam at the Valley Ranch Islamic Centre in Irving, Texas led one of the protests at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport which had more people detained under this order than any other airport in the country.
The call to action from Shaykh Omar bought together hundreds of people to the main terminal of the DFW Airport who stayed there until all unfairly detained people had been released. These sentiments and protests were replicated around the United States.
Despite the Trump Administration’s continued resolve to implement this ban, opponents of it say they will launch a legal challenge on two fronts. They are expected to argue that the blanket ban violates the fifth amendment right to due process and that the order’s preferential treatment of Christians over Muslims violates the first amendment on freedom of religion.