People of all faiths reject refugee ban

Protesters outside White House on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, demonstrating against President Donald Trump's refugee ban. RNS photo by Jerome Socolovsky

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Donald Trump said he is not barring refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries because of their religion.

But few, if any, of the people who protested this weekend in cities and airports across the country — and especially those who were motivated by their own religious convictions — believe that.

Here are the views of some who attended a rally on Sunday (Jan. 29) outside the White House:

Nesima Aberra, American University graduate student (Muslim)

“I’m glad people realize this isn’t about just Muslims, because if you look at the countries that Trump is trying to ban refugees from, it’s not at all in line with their agenda of national security really. So people understand there’s obviously a lot of hate and stereotypes that are being used to further these so-called national security policies. People realize that if you are truly a religious person, you would understand that these laws are not in line with your religious beliefs.”

Ayelet Hines, communications director, T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights group (Jewish)

“My grandparents fled Hitler in the late 1930s. They barely made it out. They went to whatever country would take them, and as you know the United States turned away Jews, turned away 908 Jews on the St. Louis, a ship carrying Jewish refugees that was turned away from the United States. And those Jews had to turn around and go back to Europe where many of them were murdered. And we can’t stand for that for any people, because we know this personally.”

Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Georgetown University chaplain (Jewish)

“As Jews, we’ve been called all sorts of names. We’ve been deemed dangerous over and over again at different parts of our history and that’s never been true. And so it is now, those who are being deemed dangerous or a threat, we know are not. And it’s not just we know that. It’s proven in every study that’s ever done. So the facts betray what’s going on here which is serious religious bias and persecution.”

Kim Coleman (Nichiren Buddhist)

“As a person not practicing the dominant faith of Christianity in America, I’m not here for myself. I’m here for the 134 million people in those seven countries who are no longer welcome here, and all refugees across the world, that are no longer welcome in America. At the same time, I know that anyone could be next. So just because you’re not Muslim, you need to see the injustice in this. You need to take action to any extent that you possibly can.”

Leigh Ainsworth (Christian)

“I just think that as Christians we’re called to love other people. And we’re supposed to spread God’s word to other people, and I think that includes people of other religions and we aren’t showing love if we’re telling people they’re not welcome here. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we should turn people away because they are different or they have different beliefs. Instead we should be welcoming them and having open and frank conversations with them about our faith and how it might differ, but at the same time how we might share similar beliefs.”

About the author

Jerome Socolovsky


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  • Since religion has very little to do with what’s really going on here, it means little that “People of all faiths reject refugee ban”. Post-9/11 geopolitics is behind this, and so it’s highly significant that “the People of (socio-historically critical minds) reject refugee ban”, such as these three who make the following problem-statement:

    QUESTION: Why impose refugee ban on Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen – instead of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar and Afghanistan?

    1ST ANSWER: “Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order that would include a temporary refugee ban and a suspension of visas for citizens of … Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. … These countries have seen heavy interference from the United States in the last decade or so. … Notable omissions from the refugee ban list include Saudi Arabia … the United Arab Emirates … Turkey … Qatar … and Afghanistan … the countries … that arguably create the problem, yet the countries on the list are the ones that have to deal with the problem. Sound fair? … It’s one thing to want to keep your country safe from being infiltrated by terrorists; it’s another thing to stay silent about the atrocities your military is committing abroad and to ignore the numerous suspicious countries that have escaped such a ban. If your military can go somewhere to wreak havoc, that nation’s civilians should be allowed to come to you.” (Mintpress News, January 27, 2017)

    2ND ANSWER: “The countries that have produced and supported the greatest number of anti-U.S. terrorists — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, UAE — are excluded from the ban list because the tyrannical regimes that run those countries are close U.S. allies. Conversely, the countries that are included — Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Iran, Sudan, and Yemen — have produced virtually no such terrorists; as the Cato Institute documented on Friday night: ‘Foreigners from those seven nations have killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and the end of 2015.’ … Five of the seven predominantly Muslim countries on Trump’s list were ones bombed by Obama, while the other two (Iran and Sudan) were punished with heavy sanctions. Thus, Trump is banning immigrants from the very countries that the U.S. government — under both Republicans and Democrats — has played a key role in destabilizing and destroying” (The Intercept, January 28 2017).

    3RD ANSWER: “President Trump’s ban against letting people from seven mostly Muslim countries enter the United States … is a troubling sign that Trump doesn’t have the nerve to challenge the false terrorism narrative demanded by Israel and Saudi Arabia. … he is unwilling to take on the real nexus of terrorism, just as Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama shied away from a clash with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikdoms. … Trump’s seven-nation list includes Iran, Syria and Sudan as state sponsors of terrorism and Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya as countries where there has been terrorist activity. But the governments of Iran and Syria arguably have become two of the leading fighters against the terrorist groups of most concern to the U.S. and European populations. … Yet while none of the Al Qaeda/Islamic State benefactors made Trump’s list, Iran and Syria did.  In other words, not only is Trump’s ban a blunderbuss blast at thousands of innocent Muslims who have no intention of hurting the United States but it doesn’t even take aim at the most dangerous targets which represent a genuine terrorist threat.” (Consortium News, January 29, 2017)

  • See? The President is fulfilling a campaign promise by uniting people AGAINST him and his crazy policies. How many Republicans does it take to impeach a crazy GOP President?

  • That would require the Holy Rollers to be possessed of common sense, which many see as being possessed by evil spirits.

  • Lotta seething anger in there, plus you didn’t answer Jim’s question.

    Meanwhile, Trump is now easing up on the ban a little, which is good.

    “Accordingly, absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status (green cards, in other words — fl ) will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”

    — John Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary, quoted on MSN today (via Tribune)

    I really, really doubt that evangelicals will oppose what Kelly said there.

  • Because the press uses terms like “alternative facts”? Riiight.

    Of you think detaining people on the basis of national origin and religion is “vetting” then you are clueless.

  • “Trump is now easing up on the ban a little, which is good.”

    Because it blew up in his face rather quickly. It’s very difficult to call this nonsense “vetting” when this is affecting permanent residents. This included people already given refugee status People who were already vetted by our immigration system in the most strenuous ways we have available.

    The arbitrary nature of the countries applied to demonstrated how little though went into this order.

  • Just a brief reminder, Spuddie, about how well that “vetting” thing worked out under Obama’s watch. (Emphases mine.)

    +++FBI Director James Comey added in congressional testimony last month (Oct. 2015), that “a number of people who were of serious concern” slipped through the screening of Iraq War refugees, including two arrested on terrorism-related charges. “There’s no doubt that was the product of a less than excellent vetting,” he said.

    Although Comey said the process has since “improved dramatically,” Syrian refugees will be even harder to check because, unlike in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have not been on the ground collecting information on the local population. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” he said.“I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.” — Washington Post, story by Jerry Markon, 11-17-15. +++

    America’s flying blind as to what’s coming from Syria. But Obama saw NO need for action. Obama = Do-Nothing-President.
    Sure, Trump needs to ease back, but at least he’s trying to DO something, actually DO something.

  • Actually it has worked out far better than you would care to admit. Especially since the vetting for refugees is the most strenuous and involved for any immigrant category. Ignorance of the immigration system and blatant lying about basic facts is essential to trumps rhetoric and nativist views in general.

    Comeys word on the subject isn’t worth squat.

    His dept. doesn’t actually handle the vetting process they is done at administrative levels by USCIS. His views are based on nothing more than speculation.

    There have been zero Americans killed in terrorist acts by refugees from those seven countries from 1975-2017. Many of those detained are people who were already helping the US government and already vetted.

    The same guy who made a phony stink about Sec Clinton’s emails but is silent about the presidents constant use of a private server for public statements and official communication.

    If you think this kind of blanket ban is going to be effective or even count as a form of vetting, you are fooling yourself. It is already proven to be counter productive garbage.

  • Good to know that you’ve got sufficiently expert credentials to dismiss out of hand an FBI director’s candid (and unrefuted) 2015 congressional testimony about serious vetting problems directly relating to Syrian refugees.

    Me, I lack such credentials, so I’ll continue taking that same FBI director’s testimony very seriously, thanks.

  • All faiths? All. I guarantee you there were many flavors of Christians, and Jews for that matter, celebrating this ban. Certainly most of the 81% of Christian Evangelical voters who help elect Trump.

    Politically active Christians are responsible for this. Stop deflecting blame away from religion when this refugee ban is religious persecution from beginning to end.

  • Of course I can. Comey isn’t an expert on the immigration system nor particularly competent as an objective provider of facts in general.

    The FBI has no part of the process since their mandate is on purely domestic criminal matters. It’s not expertise. It’s political posturing.

  • Congress trusted Comey’s expertise enough to call him in and inquire of him directly in an official hearing, so you’ll have to argue his competence “as an objective provider of facts” relating to vetting problems involving Syrian refugees, with Congress.

    As for me, I’m just noticing that nobody was able to — and has never been able to — actually refute or even put a minor dent in Comey’s specific 2015 points as quoted. Will you be the first?

  • If you can show me where in the immigration vetting process the FBI has a hand in concerning credentials outside the US, you would have a point. But they aren’t. That process is handled outside of Comey’s purview. So I again question the basis of his expertise here.

    Congress bringing people to speak on a subject is hardly a sign of expertise or relevance. Too often congressional hearings were used for entirely partisan ends: see Clinton hearings and planned Parenthood hearing.

  • my question is…..are you not experiencing enough hatred and hostility in the US right now, that you don’t need to allow more angry people from angry nations to add more anger to a pot that is starting to boil already?

  • I am somewhat amazed at how so many people are going ballistic because they accept as truth what a propagandist media says or politicians like Schumer, that this is a “muslim ban” or whether from those quoted in an article or those commenting on an article, that it is religious discrimination or even persecution on the part of Trump?

    If you read, for yourselves, the actual Executive Order on the ban, you can find out the purpose is to weed out those who want to come to this country to do us harm, I.E. Terrorists. It has nothing to do with religion. It has nothing to do with not wanting to help those in need.
    Obama did the same thing in 2015 for 6 months for Iraq. I don’t remember big protests over it. This protest is not about the ban, it is about who initiated the ban, Trump!

  • Given Fox News interview with Rudy Guilani it appears that Trump wanted a mechanism to ban Muslims legally from entering the US so it was decided to work from a risk hypothesis. As noted, the risk is apparently not associated with the countries targeted while Saudi Arabia gets a pass. 5000 American troops are working in tandem with Iraqi troops and Iraq has indicated that they may consider retaliation in requiring all Americans to leave. In addition, foreign policy experts have suggested that this action could leave Iraq vulnerable to Iran’s influence. Doing something may have blowback that should have been considered ahead of time. However, if you are Trump, you apparently think “it is all working out nicely”. I was raised to remember to think before I acted and taught my kids the same thing. However, Trump’s record of blurting out tweets suggests that this was something not drummed into him.

  • Are Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt angry nations too? Or does Golden Showers having business interests there calm everything down?

  • This morning in a tweet the president referred to his order as a “Muslim ban,” so that lie is laid to rest. However, his band of NaziKKK pals may call that tweet an “alternative fact.”

    Prospective immigrants are subject to a 2 year vetting process and must provide 20 different documents. Approval is required every step of the way so they are very well vetted.

    The countries not on the president’s ban list are the ones where he has business interests. Shame on the president and his NaziKKK klan.

  • Copied from another thread:
    According to Alex Nowrasteh of the conservative Cato Institute, the “annual chance of an American dying in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee is one in 3.6 billion” (source). Americans are far more likely to be killed by a meteor, struck by lightning, and any number of other improbable/uncommon misadventures, than they are to be killed by a refugee. And it hardly bears mentioning that the 9/11 hijackers were all from Saudi Arabia, which is not on the President’s list.

    As for its similarities to the Obama administration’s 2011 moratorium on Iraqi refugees, and subsequent judgment in 2015 that these seven countries warrant concern, it’s worth pointing out that, at no time, either in 2011 or 2015, did the U.S. stop issuing visas or ban refugees entirely as this administration has. See this article for detailed insights on this from someone who was there.

    At best it seems the new administration wants to have their cake and eat it too. They want to (appear to) fulfill a campaign promise while blaming their poor execution on the previous administration. At worst, this is just the beginning.

  • We know conservatives are incapable of a discussion.
    We arrived at this conclusion by their constant use of ad hominem poo flinging in place of arguments.

    I believe you have the wrong site. Breitbart is elsewhere.

  • This order does nothing of the sort. It attacks people who were already vetted by our system, hence its application to permanent resident aliens and current visa holders. It has nothing to do with actually useful measures to combat terrorism and in fact has been a boost to terrorists by fueling their propaganda. Now ISIS gets to say the west is deliberately targeting Muslims just as they were claiming we did. Not only that, the ban hurts the people most likely to help in the fight against terrorism. The people from those countries who have assisted the US military in the past. If you noticed all of the countries were ones where the US is involved in interventions with in one form or another.

    These Iraqi Fighter Pilots Are Bombing ISIS — Now Trump Has Banned Them—4——0———-

    The Pentagon is trolling the president over the counterproductive nature of the ban

    “However, in a rare interview with Politico, he [Now Sec’y of State James Mattis] blasted Trump’s campaign promise to bar Muslims from coming into the country saying it made America appear as if “we have lost faith in reason” and damages relations with key allies in the Middle East.

    “They think we’ve completely lost it. This kind of thing is causing us great damage right now, and it’s sending shock waves through this international system,” Mattis said.