Culture Editor, Elliote Long, rounds off our ‘In response to a week in politics’, with a retrospective warning of the future path in worlds
Just one week into his presidency, Donald Trump has signed a ‘Muslim Ban’. It’s an executive order which bans citizens of seven muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — from entering the US for the next 90 days and indefinitely halts the US refugee programme. The ban is one item on a list of terrifying actions Trump has taken in the first week of his presidency. We’ve seen him reinstate the global gag rule, de-fund ‘sanctuary cities’ (municipalities that protect undocumented people), and set the wheels in motion for the construction of a US-Mexico boarder wall. Even amongst all this nightmarish news, reading about the ‘Muslim Ban’ was particularly devastating for me. Not only because of the hatred behind the ban and the heartbreaking stories of those already affected, but also because the order was signed on the 27th January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The news would have been shattering had it come on any day of the year. But the symbolism of signing an executive order that writes Islamophobia into the law and indefinitely blocks refugees because of their religion on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps is too potent to ignore.
The tragic irony of Trump’s choice of date has not gone unnoticed on social media and in the press. Many have been pointing out the parallel between the islamophobia behind Trump’s executive order and the antisemitism that drove the Nazis. Others have been sharing stories of the 900 jewish refugees who’s ship, the SS St. Louis, was forced to return to Nazi-occupied Europe in 1939 after it was turned away from ports in Cuba and Florida. 254 passengers of the SS St. Louis are among the Holocaust victims we commemorate on the 27th January every year and it is hard to ignore the similarities between them and the mostly Syrian refugees who will be shut out by Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’. The phrase “Never forget, never again” is used when we talk about Holocaust remembrance and memorial. This phrase implores us to recognise the immense tragedy of what happened and to use this knowledge to prevent the hatred and violence of the Holocaust from ever taking hold again. Donald Trump’s actions no longer surprise me, but I am truly appalled at how shamelessly he has spit in the face of history with the ‘Muslim Ban’.
With such a torrent of terrifying announcements our first reaction might be to become dispirited and hibernate, but it’s important to harness the upset and anger and make it into action. “Action” can mean something different for each individual, so here’s a varied list of things we can do in the wake of the ‘Muslim Ban’:
– JOIN A DEMO: Demonstrations were organised all over the country for the 30th January but there are going to be more in the days to come. Here are the Facebook events for London, Edinburgh, Manchester demos and probably other UK cities will be taking to the streets too — keep an eye on the #NoBanNoWall hashtag to see what’s happening where you are.
– WRITE TO THERESA MAY: Sign this Amnesty petition to let the Prime Minister know how you feel about the Muslim Ban and our ‘special relationship’ with Trump’s USA.
– DONATE: Advocacy organisations and other NGOs in the States are doing amazing work in the face of the ban — either by directly helping those already affected or by taking Trump to task in the courts. Some organisations that you could donate to include: The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee; The American Civil Liberties Union; The Council on American-Islamic Relations; The Iranian Alliance Across Boarders.
– FIGHT ISLAMOPHOBIA AND RACIST BOARDERS AT HOME: Don’t forget that Muslim lives, the lives of Black and Brown people, and the lives of migrants are under attack in the UK, too. Check out this article and this website to see what you can do here at home.
EDUCATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS ABOUT THE BAN: There’s a lot of misinformation flying around about the ban — either from people legitimately panicking about its scope or from supporters of the ban trying to spin it their way — and to fight the beast we have to know the beast. Read this basic breakdown and articles like this to develop your understanding of what’s really going on so you can educate others and feel confident in debating the ban into oblivion