From protests outside of PHL to a local lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the city of Philadelphia has felt the effects of the muslim travel ban since its signing on the first of the month. Prominent members of the local muslim community have spoke about the impact of the travel ban issued and what they hope to see in the future.
The protest outside of Philadelphia Airport (PHL) had a significant amount of people show up in solidarity for the cause, “We had 5,000 people at the airport with a couple hours of notice. The vast majority of them not being muslim, but being concerned to say that the the muslim community and various muslims are our brothers and sisters and we will not allow them to be dragged off like Japanese americans were done in WWII,” said Jacob Bender, Executive Director of Council on American Islamic Relations.
The protest had several thousand people present from Mayor Kenney to local Philadelphia hopefuls hopefuls including Richard Negrin, candidate for DA who said that he believes that the travel ban is morally corrupt, “That’s why I was at the airport on Sunday [...] I can’t remember a scarier time in our country,” Negrin said at a Philly for Change meeting. The executive order issued by President Donald Trump is titled, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, and has banned the entry of refugees for 120 days. The order specifically focuses on banning the entry of travelers from seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia and states that any citizen from these countries cannot enter for three months. The document also states that refugees from Syria will be banned indefinitely.
White House officials have stated that the order wouldn't apply to travelers with green cards who are permanent legal residents, though there have been claims that those with green cards have also been detained.
Locally, six Christian immigrants from Syria, all family members, who arrived at Philadelphia International Airport on a Qatar Airways were sent back overseas along with an Iranian woman who was traveling alone but had a valid visa. The six members of the Assali family who were denied entry but have been set to return according to relatives and lawyers of the Assali family.
Despite the ban specifically mentioning seven countries, sources say people from other muslim countries have expressed outrage at the ban and experience it as an attack on all muslims. “These are some clearly discriminatory measures that the only people who are applauding them are people who have a predisposed prejudice to the Muslim community,” Bender says.
Legal action against the ban has taken place across the country with Mayor Kenney stating that he will double down on all efforts to fight the ban. “While we will have to continue to work to see this order completely defeated, this is an important victory against hate,” Mayor Kenney said in a statement.
But Jacob Bender, the Philadelphia Executive Director of CAIR stated there may be a silver lining within the Philadelphia community as a whole, “Since the election, and since the inauguration, and since the signing of the draconian measures, there has been a great coming together of people of goodwill and different religious communities who, even if they may have some disagreement on other issues, are united in their outrage against the president in a clear prejudicial and racist degree to which he and the administration has targeted the American muslim community.”
“By learning about each other, I believe, that in the short and long term, will have the effect of reducing prejudice hatred and fear,” Bender stated.