Plaza Voices: I Am A Muslim

Our regular contributor Naghem S. writes:

I am a Muslim. I am an Iraqi- American. I came to the U.S. as a refugee.

If Donald Trump’s travel ban was in existence in April of 1996, I would not be here writing this today. I would most likely be dead.

On Friday, January 27, 2017, Donald Trump issued his fifth Executive Order. It was day seven of his presidency.

Below is an excerpt taken directly from the official White House website:
Executive Order- Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States

"...Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. [...] In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry, or hatred (including “honor killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation…”

The “travel ban,” as many people have come to call Donald Trump’s executive order, calls for the temporary ban of refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. Incoming refugees and immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen are banned from entering the United States for 90 days. Refugees and immigrants from Syria are banned from entering the United States indefinitely.

Donald Trump cites the attacks on September 11, 2001 as an essential motivation for his travel ban. On that day, 19 terrorists coordinated a series of four attacks on U.S. soil that killed 2993 people and injured thousands more. Fifteen of the terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one from Lebanon, and one terrorist was from Egypt. None of the terrorists were from the seven banned countries outlined in Donald Trump’s executive order. Zero of the 19 terrorists came to the United States as a refugee or as an immigrant—they were here on temporary visas.

In fact, no fatal terrorist attacks post 9/11 were executed by people from the seven countries banned in Trump’s executive order.

According to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, in their 2016 report, Muslim-American Involvement with Violent Extremism:

  • 123 Americas were killed by Muslim-American extremists since 9/11.
  • 240,000 Americans were murdered by other Americans over the same period.
  • In 2016, 188 Americans were killed in mass shootings, not including the victims of Orlando, Florida.
  • The deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11 was the 2016 Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, which took the lives of 49 Americans (and was perpetrated by an American citizen).

On January 30, the Atlantic reported that:

  • Zero Americans have been killed by Syrian refugees in a terrorist attack in the United States.
  • Nationals of the seven countries singled out by Trump have killed zero people in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015.
  • Over the last four decades, 20 out of 3.25 million refugees welcomed to the United States have been convicted of committing or attempting to commit terrorist acts.

The claim that refugees and immigrants are dangerous to the American way of life is a weak and fabricated claim, based more in fear than in fact. America was built to be a refuge for those fleeing religious persecution. America was built on the dreams and hopes of refugees and immigrants. America was built to be better than this.

Update: On February 10, a federal appeals court panel upheld a ruling that temporarily blocks key parts of this executive order, allowing thousands of immigrants and refugees to continue to travel to the U.S. The legal dispute is ongoing. --AR

Want to find out more? Read more of Naghem's work, take a look at our other posts about refugees and the other recent executive orders, and check out our catalog for books about the Muslim-American experience. Check out our Services to Immigrants and Refugees page for more local resources, and visit a branch near you to experience Plaza, our signature program for immigrants and refugees.

Plazas are an open community space where immigrants from all over the world connect with people, information, and resources, building Denver’s global community. Come to practice a language, prepare for citizenship, pursue your goals, and create your future. Whatever you’re doing, we can help! Please see our events calendar for more information.

Written by Amanda R. on February 10, 2017


Josh @ GVR on February 12, 2017


"The claim that refugees and immigrants are dangerous to the American way of life is a weak and fabricated claim, based more in fear than in fact. "


Anonymous on February 23, 2017


I'm glad you are here!!!

Patty B on February 24, 2017


Excellent article!! I stand with refugees and immigrants 100%!!

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