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Halifax Islamic community speaks out against Trump’s immigration policy

“We think it’s similar to Nazi rhetoric”

3 min read
caption Masuma Asad Khan, president of the Dalhousie Muslim Student Association.
Jessica R. Durling
caption Masuma Asad Khan, president of the Dalhousie Muslim Student Association.
Jessica R. Durling

United States President Donald Trump has made an executive order that will impose a temporary ban on most refugees, and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, which are all Muslim-majority nations. This executive order was signed on his fifth day of presidency, and a copy of the draft order was leaked Wednesday to civil rights groups.

“I can hope it won’t affect Canadian politics, but with the new leaders of the Conservative party emerging, it’s proof it already has,” says Masuma Asad Khan, president of the Dalhousie Muslim Student Association.

“We think it’s similar to Nazi rhetoric,” says Khan. “It’s ridiculous to ban people from a country because they are Muslim when Muslims have contributed to less than one per cent of terrorist attacks. It’s like targeting white men in their 40s and saying, ‘you aren’t allowed in our country, you pedophiles.’ Obviously it’s something we don’t like to see in America, Canada or anywhere. It’s not only an overstep of power, but it’s power used to reinforced systemic oppression and racism.”

Khan believes the similarity comes from Trump’s nationalistic views.

The Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) hasn’t seen a similar social trend in Nova Scotia at this point.

“We’ve been really pleased with the welcome that the Syrian refugees have received in Nova Scotia, and I think that the federal government is still quite committed to bringing refuges from all over the world,” says Nabiha Atallah, a staff member at ISANS.

This American ban is something previously opposed by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who Tweeted on Dec. 8, 2015 that banning Muslims from entering the U.S. is “offensive and unconstitutional.”

Amara Elghawaby, communications director at the National Council of Canadian Muslims, feels that Canadians will continue to be supportive to immigrants despite the minority in Canada that is anti-immigrant, and the U.S.’s policy. She believes that Canada has prided itself on openness, inclusion, respect, tolerance and cohesion in the past.

“We know that Canadians are really opening their hearts and their homes to Syrian refugees over the past year, and I think that is really been a testament to Canada’s incredible sense of warmth and welcome,” says Elghawaby. She points to how in response to hate crimes against Muslims in Canada “we have seen, again, an outpouring of support from fellow Canadians.” In Peterborough, Ont., last year, after a local mosque was firebombed, “the community came together and raised enough money to rebuild.”


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