Meeting CBP officers has always been nerve-wracking for me. The reason is sad and shameful.
It’s because I’m a Muslim.
I’ve had my entire phone history searched, been spoken down to, shouted at, asked if I work for Al-Jazeera and asked about the faith I follow. I have never boarded a flight to America before being pulled aside and searched again in front of a hall of passengers. I usually don’t think much of it, and just try to be nice, honest, cooperative. But the fact of the matter is, being vetted because of my religion (and for no other reason) is heartbreaking.
Being pulled aside – along with women in scarves and men with brown complexion in front of a crowd of our fellow passengers – is humiliating. I was taken aback when a CBP officer once openly told me, “Look man, the reason we pulled you aside is because people like you want to attack us. I’m sorry – that’s just the world we live in.”
I fully appreciate the need for security, hence why I’m always happy to co-operate. But should I feel afraid because of what I believe in? Should I feel – dare I say – ashamed of what I believe in, because I step into a country’s borders? Is that what freedom is?
I’m very lucky as I’m not from the 7 countries that Trump’s executive order specifies. In fact I can probably live comfortably even if I was. But what about the husband/wife separated from their loved one? What about the parent separated from their children? What about the refugee child who has fled the very terrorists that the #MuslimBan claims to protect the USA from? Refugees who face hunger, cold, loneliness, death and racism from the countries they flee too – denied entry purely because of the religion they believe in.
Trump is building a physical wall with Mexico, and an ethereal wall with the Muslim world.
We’ve been blamed for the sins of 9/11, the Boston bombings, San Bernadino and the Orlando shootings since they happened. We’re used to Islamaphobia. But yesterday, the bigotry, racism and xenophobia that makes us suffer was signed INTO LAW. This is the beginning of a line of dominos that will lead to legalised discrimination that will be beyond modern day comprehension.
This must NOT be allowed to happen. This must NOT to be allowed to stand. Use whatever you have, whatever means you have, whatever skills you have, to make your voice of protest known. Bigotry will not rise in this new age.
I will not allow my children to grow up being ashamed of their religion, or being scared to practice their religion, or being scared to identify themselves as Muslim.
God bless the thousands that are currently protesting, God bless the lawyers that are working hard to challenge this law, and God bless those true brothers and sisters in humanity that will not stand for someone to be tested on the basis of their religion.
One day, I will fly to America and not be asked about the religion I follow.
One day, a Muslim refugee will stand by my side and be accepted into the fold of safety.
Until that day comes, we will protest, and we will not stand for it.