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Las Vegas Muslims Respond To Travel Ban

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Masjid Ibrahim Mosque

When President Trump signed his executive order on Friday banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, the Muslim community in Las Vegas felt a fear.

When it was clear that the ban included people who already are legal resident aliens – green card holders – people with family visiting oversees became panicked that their loved ones wouldn’t be able to return to their families and friends and jobs.

Athar Haseebullah is a young attorney who deals with immigration issues at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. He is also affiliated with Masjid Ibrahim Mosque.

"It's a challenge," Hasseebullah said, "I think we're going to end up seeing a lot of litigation as a result of this."

He believes the ban will end up costing the federal government a lot of money as it works to defend it. He also pointed out that an extremely small number of fatalities in the United States in the past 15 years have been the result of terrorism. 

"This executive order is nothing short of a fear mongering tactic and it's worked, because literally people from any of those nations are afraid to leave," Hasseebullah said.

He said he knows people with legal permanent residents who had plans to return to their home countries to visit, but he has advised them not to go abroad.

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"There is a huge risk right now of anyone from any of these seven countries possibly some other countries if this list is expanded, who may go abroad and then not be permitted to return," he said. 

Aslam Abdullah is an Imam, also associated with Masjid Ibrahim, who also teaches at UNLV. He had strong words about the ban and President Trump.

"I think he is doing exactly what Hitler did when he came to power," Abdullah said, "Create a false enemy and rally people around him to fight that enemy."  

Abdullah said members of the Muslim community in Las Vegas are scared, and they don't even want to send their children to school.

"They don't know if the immigration authorities would go to the schools and take them away," he said. 

Abdullah said that singling out a group of people based on religion is "cruel" and "inhumane." And he is concerned that it will be a slippery slope that will go from a travel ban now to a ban on Muslim owned business or hiring of Muslims in the future.

While Abdullah is concerned about what could happen he is also confident that the majority of people will step up to help oppressed communities.

"I think there is a big difference between 1940s and 2016," he said, "The people are more aware of their rights and more concerned about human rights. They're more concerned about human dignity and human decency. And they would not let it happen to any community."

Hasseebullah agreed that groups of people feeling marginalized by some of President Trump's actions need to come together.

"These groups are going to have to come together and really have a conversation about where we're moving as a country," he said. "I believe most people now are of the opinion that we're ready to step up and fight. We're not simply going to back down and let our rights get washed away because President Trump and those that supported him wanted that to happen."

 

Guests

Athar Haseebullah, attorney; Imam Aslam Abdullah, associated with Masjid Ibrahim

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