A discussion of Trump’s recent executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries drew a crowd of 150 people to Linsly-Chittenden Hall on Tuesday night.
The panel-style talk, titled “What Now? What Next? Navigating the Muslim Ban” and hosted by the Yale Muslim Students Association, concerned the meaning of the executive order and what resources are available to those affected. Guest speakers included a representative from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and two current Yale Law School students who worked at a clinic advocating against the detainment of an Iraqi man at John F. Kennedy International Airport this weekend.
“My brothers and sisters are in deep pain,” CAIR representative Fahd Syed said. “I’ve come here to speak for my people, a beautiful people, a righteous people, an oppressed people.”
Syed spoke passionately about the experiences of American Muslims, sharing stories of anxiety and fear and giving advice to the Yale community as it reacts to last week’s immigration ban. In addition to citizens of the seven affected countries, the executive order banned Syrian refugees indefinitely and all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days.
Charles Du LAW ’17 and Adam Bradlow LAW ’18 spoke at the panel about their experiences filing an emergency petition to defend Hameed Darweesh, the Iraqi man who was detained at JFK Airport.
Bradlow said that it meant a great deal to him to speak there on Tuesday night, as it enabled him to see firsthand the solidarity and political engagement developing at Yale.
Rebecca McCurdy MED ’18 and Yukari Suzuki MED ’18 said the forum clearly indicated the solidarity of the Yale community behind immigrants and refugees. Both students said that such events, including the Sunday night candlelight vigil which drew more than 1,000 people to Cross Campus, testify to the fact that people at Yale care about people targeted by the ban.
“It is a matter of organizing and acting locally,” Suzuki said. “We need to streamline efforts and leadership.”
Panelist Omer Bajwa, director of Muslim life and a residential fellow in Timothy Dwight College, said he supports Abrar Omeish’s ’18 idea of finding solace through gatherings of all kinds. Omeish is the president of the Yale Muslim Students’ Association.
“We live in a world right now of alternative facts,” Bajwa said. “As absurd as it sounds, that’s where we are in 2017. People are irresponsibly rewriting people’s histories in a completely unethical, cruel manner.”
Representatives on the panel from Yale, including Ozan Say from the Office of International Students and Scholars, spoke about how members of the University community should proceed in the coming months and years.
Say emphasized the fact that Yale is home to approximately 5,000 international students and scholars, and while these community members may not all be immediately affected by Trump’s executive order, peers and colleagues of both international and domestic students will feel the ban’s repercussions.
Ongoing developments about Trump’s order are being updated on the OISS website. A series of forum meetings and talks by immigration attorneys to guide students will take place throughout the week.
Correction, Jan. 31: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of attendees and misattributed the idea of finding solace through gathering to Omer Bajwa. In fact, he said the idea came from Abrar Omeish ’18.