So I’m currently on a flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Los Angeles, California, holding back tears because I don’t know what to expect when I arrive. I’ve received messages that the airport is shut down in Los Angeles. I’m scared I may not get in because I travel the Middle East often - perhaps suspiciously often - though I am an American citizen from probably as many generations back as Donald Trump. His immigration ban has affected me. If it were not for the religion that I accepted six years ago, I would be the kind that “Trump wants to keep around.” A green eyed, white skinned American of the same origins as his first wife, Ivana. This issue would never have affected me if I would have continued to live my life as an Ohioan without spiritual guidance.
But BAM. I decided to become Muslim and now every day I am affected by these ridiculous legislative measures in my own damn country. Even worse than the legislation is how the country has changed. I’ve been gone for two months so thankfully I’ve missed the large portion of hatred, but I’m getting ready to dive right back into it. I can’t say that in 2011 when I converted the country was perfect. Living in suburban Ohio, I’ve been spit on, told to “go back where I came from” on almost a daily basis, and have had an old man shove me into a wall with a shopping cart while my 84 year old blonde 4’8’’ grandma watched in horror. But now? Now it’s really bad.
Now, the media is playing to people’s fears, as is the head of our country. Fear is the one thing that will make people act on their emotions. There have been masaajid (mosques) burned in Texas, girls are getting punched for their hijab, and a family in the tiny town where I took my shahada had someone write “F*** Arabs” with the Natzi symbol on their garage.
Don’t forget: unless you are 100% Native American, we are all immigrants. Perhaps your family immigrated in 1802, or perhaps in 2012, but either way: we are immigrants. My family came to the states not that many generations back. Trump’s wife is an immigrant herself. It’s kind of blowing my mind why he thinks its appropriate to block one group of people and not another. Oh right… because we think Jesus is a prophet and not God Himself. My bad. Now its logical.
Can I tell you something? You are scared of a group of people you don’t know. You want to know what I experience being around possibly some of the “harshest” Muslim men in the world in Riyadh? Yesterday at dinner I saw a man with a huge beard look at his baby and blow it a kiss across the table. I had a meeting with a sheikh three days ago (huge beard, scary as hell on the outside if you didn’t know him) who poured me coffee and milk and stirred it for me before serving it to me. The only harshness I’ve experienced from a Muslim is my friend’s two year old son dragging me around my apartment while I packed my luggage trying to distract me and saying “Hanaaaaaa” in a sad voice the whole time. This is what you’re scared of? Grown men that blow kisses and serve women coffee?
Banning immigrants or visitors is banning these kinds of people. Sure you’re getting a crazy one or two in the group, but that’s with EVERY nationality, and every religion. You think during Ellis Island’s immigration there weren’t a few criminals?
I’ve read into the new ban - in order to ensure that as an American with an American passport I would not have a problem - and I’ve found that those people of the “religious minority” are still allowed in. So, a Christian Syrian person can come to the States, but a Muslim Syrian person cannot. Awesome. This is religious discrimination.
And I’ve heard rumors that Saudi Arabia may soon join the list of countries that are not permitted. Saudi is my home - where will I go if I have a problem getting back?
I love you, America, and I believe in you. I’m glad people are protesting. I’m glad people are heartbroken. I’m devastated that people’s families are being broken up - people that I know, not just figurative “people.” We are ten days in. We have 1450 days to go.