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Another Voice: Americans upset by immigration order reach out

By Amer Aziz

As American Muslims, President Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” is causing us much trepidation. The executive order bans refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

The president insists the order is taken for security reasons. However, experts have pointed out there is no evidence of anyone from these countries being involved in terrorism on U.S. soil. Politicians have also voiced their concern that applying a religion test to refugees could be compromising our constitutional injunctions.

The anxieties for American Muslims are real. Will the ban cause attitudes against Muslims to harden? Will Muslims be seen as a security threat? Will it lead to further, wider and stricter bans targeting Muslims? Is a Muslim registry now a strong probability?

Much as these questions are unsettling, it is heartwarming to see Americans from across the nation reaching out.

Many campaigned last weekend to relieve emergencies for those worst affected.

A judge in New York allowed in-transit passengers with valid visas from the banned countries to continue their journeys. Civil liberties groups extended legal and procedural assistance where they could.

Others voiced the threat to secular and humanitarian ideals that form our Constitution and identity as Americans.

Crowds gathered at airports in a show of solidarity and support. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh joined them at Logan Airport. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright announced that if a Muslim registry takes effect, she will register herself as a Muslim. In many ways, the notion of banning a certain group of people based on religion is bringing us together, causing us to be more united.

Muslims are also reaching out. A key factor in anxiety is the fear of the unknown. Thus, education and outreach are critical to mitigate the perverted interpretation of religion touted by the extremists, and echoed by what has come to be known as the Islamophobia industry.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA has launched the True-Islam campaign (see trueislam.com) aiming to educate non-Muslims on the true teaching of Islam. To date, almost 13,000 people have endorsed it. The meet-a-Muslim campaign strives to introduce a Muslim to every American – 60 percent of whom have never met one.

In Buffalo, the local Ahmadiyya chapter has been hosting late afternoon sessions dubbed “coffee, cake & Islam” inviting friends, neighbors and colleagues to come around and have a chat about current affairs.

Amer Aziz, of Amherst, is a writer, blogger and editor with the Muslim Writers Guild of America and is vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Buffalo.

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