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Executive Director of Muslim Alliance of Indiana speaks on Trump's refugee- and Muslim-targeting ban

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Syrian refugee children at a half-built apartment block near Reyfoun in Lebanon, close to the border with Syria, give the peace sign. The families fled Syria due to the war and are now living on a building site. - (SYRIA 1, EMERGENCIES 6) (9362333059)" BY TROCAIRE FROM IRELAND
  • (Syria 1, Emergencies 6) (9362333059)" by Trocaire from Ireland
  • Syrian refugee children at a half-built apartment block near Reyfoun in Lebanon, close to the border with Syria, give the peace sign. The families fled Syria due to the war and are now living on a building site.

Yesterday, Donald Trump signed an executive order permanently banning the resettlement of Syrian refugees, limiting the resettlement of other refugees via the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120-days and implementing an immediate 90-day suspension of issuing visas and entry to people from select Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia.

Immediate chaos followed. Refugees — in the air when the order was signed — were detained at airports. Companies like Google recalled their staff, unsure if they'd be able to re-enter the country. The probably-illegal order — The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, signed by Lyndon Johnson, banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin — already has multiple lawsuits lined up to challenge it. Protests at airports have begun.

The order effectively constitutes a religious ban, based on Trump's pledge to prioritize Christian refugees and language included in the order. Via CNN: 
The order also gave the Department of Homeland Security leeway to prioritize refugee claims made by people "on the basis of religious based persecution" as long as the person applying for refugee status is "a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality."
A reminder: So-called "extreme vetting" and accompanying anti-Muslim sentiments were a cornerstone of Trump's campaign.

Another reminder: Here's what then-Governor Mike Pence — who had his own entanglements with Syrian refugees -- said about such a ban in 2015, before he became Vice President (and stood next to Trump while he signed such a ban):


Another reminder: Here's what Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said of such a ban in mid-2016:


(Yesterday, Paul Ryan issued the following statement: "Our number one responsibility is to protect the homeland. We are a compassionate nation, and I support the refugee resettlement program, but it's time to re-evaluate and strengthen the visa-vetting process. ... President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country.")

Another reminder: Trump signed this executive order on International Holocaust Remembrance Day — a time to remember that millions of Jews died from religious persecution, thousands of whom were barred from entering the United States as refugees.

This morning, NUVO spoke with Rima Khan Shahid, Executive Director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, about the impact of the order and the importance of allyship for non-Muslim Hoosiers.

Khan Shahid encourages those in opposition of the ban to immediately call their elected representatives. Find your representative's contact information here.

NUVO: What are your thoughts this morning?

Rima Khan Shahid: I'm truly saddened that there would be an order coming from the highest office of the United States that would go against the very principles that this country was founded upon. Our country was founded upon people escaping Europe, essentially. We are all immigrants in the United States. For now, for that to be lost, and for the executive orders to have a historical amnesia on the fact that our country is founded on these principles, truly saddens me.

NUVO: How will this particularly impact Indiana? Already by law, we can have no sanctuary cities.

Khan Shahid: I think this is going to truly affect our state and our country because a lot of immigrants and refugees coming to the United States go through the school system and provide back into our economy. It's going to change the landscape of the United States. People that come here for better opportunities, educators, etc. – they're no longer going to be welcome. It somewhat makes every one of us feel, are we truly welcome?

NUVO: Can you tell me a bit about the mission of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana?

Khan Shahid: The Muslim Alliance of Indiana was formed shortly after 9/11. A group of people got together here locally and decided that we needed to make a change, and that we needed to be seated at the table. The Muslim Alliance advocates for Muslim Hoosiers, as well as all Hoosiers. We strive to bring changes in our state.

NUVO: If someone is deeply concerned about this, what can they do right now to help protect our Muslim friends and neighbors?

Khan Shahid: I think the first thing to do is go online and find your representative, statewide as well as who represents you in D.C. Call their office. Let them know that you live in their district, that they are your representative, and that you do not stand for this. These are our elected officials and I believe and I hope that if they get enough phone calls and enough people speak out about this, than they will truly represent us in D.C. and let our voices be heard, that we do not stand on bans on Muslims from particular countries, from refugees entering into our state.

NUVO: Could you speak a bit about future programs from the Muslim Alliance of Indiana? If people want to attend those and learn more, what do you have coming up?

Khan Shahid: We will be having a Muslim Day at the Statehouse coming up in March. The date is not final; we will be releasing that on the website as well as on social media coming up very soon. We're toying with two days. If other people would come and attend with us in solidarity at Muslim Day at the Statehouse, in which they'll have an opportunity to speak with their representatives, to speak with other elected officials at our Statehouse, I think that would be a great start. There are some bills that are being introduced, or that may be introduced into our Statehouse that we find very alarming, as well as our ongoing efforts with other members in the community to get a hate crime law passed. I think that's the first one.

We've requested Governor Holcomb to do the Governor's Iftar, which will fall on Ramandan, which is a long-standing tradition of the Muslim Alliance. We have been happy to host that at the Statehouse every year. We also, every year, do an event for our refugees on World Refugee Day.

NUVO: Can you tell me about the importance of allies? Most Hoosiers are not Muslim, although there are many who live here who are. Can you tell me why it's important to stand in solidarity, and what that means for organizations like yours?

Khan Shahid: I think that when we continue to let ourselves be divided by religion, by color, by socioeconomic causes then there's no … There's power in number. And if you're able to form alliances and have a larger voice, that's what makes change. That's how revolutions are formed. I think that it's so important for people to come together on these issues that matter to all of us. Today, it's a Muslim ban. We don't know what it's going to be tomorrow. If you're not truly horrified by this, then you are naive.


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