syria boy

Its turning out to be a fiasco. No, much worse: its an injustice with tragic consequences for Muslim victims.

I’m referring of course to the executive order signed by America’s president Donald Trump, barring people from several Muslim-majority countries, including Iran from traveling to the US.

Dubbed as the “Muslim Ban”, the decree led to several people prevented from boarding flights to the US, despite possessing valid documents, including visas and green cards. Reports from media agencies in the Middle East, indicate that immigration officials at airports in Cairo, Dubai, Qatar and elsewhere have acted swiftly to prevent passengers from listed countries to fly to their American-bound destinations.

Bizarrely, even naturalized US citizens who originate from the targeted countries have found themselves unable to return “home”. Some who had been in flights and landed at JFK International airport in the US, found themselves singled out and detained.

The decree, which has the hallmarks of a dictator, was signed last Friday to enforce Trump’s campaign promises to ban Muslims. The seven Muslim-majority countries are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Why these seven and not others such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – is a question debated across various media platforms, particularly in America. However, it is misplaced to argue or suggest that Saudi Arabia ought to have been included instead of Iran. It cannot be an either/or choice of targets. Whether its Somalia or Pakistan, the fact is that the executive order is arbitrary, discriminatory and xenophobic in addition to being racist and Islamophobic.

Interestingly, the countries whose citizens are banned were selected during Barack Obama’s presidency. According to a report published in Mic by Sarah Harvard, Obama signed the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act as part of an omnibus spending bill. The legislation restricted access and foreigners who would normally be deemed eligible for a visa waiver were denied If they had visited Iran, Syria, Sudan or Iraq or held dual citizenship from one of those countries.

“So, in a nutshell, Obama restricted visa waivers for those seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen – and now, Trump is looking to bar immigration and visitors from the same list of countries.”

What this reveals is that the roots of Islamophobia in the United States predates Donald Trump. Though the 45th American president has outraged Muslims with his bigotry now being enforced through the stroke of his pen, its crucial not to lose sight of the climate of hate against Islam prevalent across the country and by extension in Europe.

Who can forget the “shock and awe” of George W Bush? Or then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s quote, calmly asserting that US policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Iraqi children? Black holes? Renditions? Torture and abominable sexual abuse? Guantanamo? Invasion and occupation of Muslim lands? What we are confronted with today is a rebranding by Trump of a supremacist ideology which unsurprisingly is applauded by Israel’s right wing regime.

The current executive order, as shocking as it is, is the latest manifestation of a series of installments of hate and prejudice by previous administrations – both Republican and Democrats. Yes it is an extreme act of Islamophobia and is a fulfillment of Trump’s pledge: “We’re going to have extreme vetting in all cases, and I mean extreme.”

What many had dismissed as buffoonery by an egotistical power-hungry capitalist, is turning out to be a nightmare with dreaded consequences for the world.

Will there be repercussions? Indeed there will be if more than 130 million Muslims in the targeted countries are treated as lepers! Already, Iran has signaled that it will respond in kind by barring Americans. Within the US, civil rights activists and human rights lawyers have mobilised to challenge Trump’s decree – in the streets and in courts. Ultimately these brash acts will usher fresh challenges to American hegemony as public opinion turns against policies which are built on a platform of injustice.

Iqbal Jassat

Executive Member: Media Review Network

Johannesburg

Iqbal Jassat

Iqbal Jassat is an acclaimed writer, analyst and commentator and one of the founder members of MRN. His analysis is featured regularly in mainstream and alternate media outlets around the world.