Vigil held for those affected by new travel ban

A #NoMuslimBan vigil was held on Monday at Civic Center Plaza, a day before the Trump administration planned to announce their third iteration of the travel ban.

The event was hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a non-profit, civil rights advocacy group based in Santa Clara, California. Their mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties and empower American Muslims.

The new version of the ban removed Sudan from the list of countries and added Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

SF State student and women and gender studies major, Emily Watterson, does not believe in borders at all and explained how she thinks the travel ban is incredibly racist.

“Every time a terrorist attack happens, it keeps upping the stakes, even if it is perpetrated by a white male. It ends up sparking this conversation about ISIS and terrorism in other countries,” Watterson said. “I’m so disheartened by all of this.”

The diverse crowd included people from multiple countries on the list and other people that stood in solidarity with those affected.

“The Muslim and refugee bans are discriminatory, unconstitutional and inhumane in the same vein as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Japanese-American incarceration and special registration after 9/11,” the Facebook event for the vigil said.

The event featured speakers from the original six impacted countries, refugees from war torn countries and allies, as well as poetry and music from the Bay Area Arabic Music Ensemble.

Jehan Hakim, a community advocate for the National Security and Civil Rights Team with the Asian Law Caucus, spoke at the event.

“I feel like it’s Islamophobia on steroids. I feel really othered and criminalized based on who I am and how I worship,” said Hakim, who is from Yemen. “These discriminatory policies resonate with a lot of communities, so I think people are here to resist and send Trump a message that we’re not going to stand for this.”

The event was sponsored by more than 50 local and non-local organizations that encourage the idea that the U.S. is a country that was built by immigrants and will continue to be bettered by them.

During the vigil, a small group of people that were standing towards the back of the plaza were referred to the host of the event as “white supremacists” and booed by the crowd. YouTube star Nuance Bro, that interviews radical protesters and counter-protesters, was among them. One of his videos includes an interview with the controversial leader of the alt-right group, Milo Yiannopoulos. Event volunteers encouraged the crowd to not pay attention on the white supremacists.

Another speaker, Donna Farvard, is the organizing manager for the National Iranian-American Council, which helped sponsor the event. She explained how members of her organization were affected by the travel ban.

“I feel like the rights of my community are under attack purely to make Trump seem like he is tough and have him advance a xenophobic agenda to end the entry of Muslims in America,” Farvard said. “Within the first 24 hours we received over 100 inquiries from our members on the issues relating to the Muslim ban, like whether or not their visas will be upheld or whether or not their grandparents could travel to the U.S. for the holidays.”

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