Date: 08/12/2021
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A Final Word On Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’

by Hugh Fitzgerald

As promised, President Biden by Executive Order has undone what has become universally known as the “Muslim Ban.” This has been reported on as an event that should cause all right-minded people to share in the “joy and relief” of Muslims everywhere.

Here is one of those reports:

Muslim, African and Arab Americans and civil rights advocates are breathing a sigh of relief after President Joe Biden’s long-anticipated reversal of the travel ban, which has separated thousands of families since it was issued in former President Donald Trump’s first week in office.

No families were forcibly separated by the Muslim Travel Ban. It affected people only in one direction: those wishing to travel to the United States. If, say, an individual Muslim was already in the U.S. and members of his family were in one of the handful of countries subject to the ban, that individual could at any time leave the U.S. to rejoin his, or her, family. This is never pointed out, and we are left to imagine the pathos of a scene where American military or police rip Muslim children from their wailing mothers, and families are torn asunder by the fathomless cruelty of the American government. Not at all.

Biden’s fulfillment of his day-one promise to Muslim supporters, which he first announced at a Muslim conference in July, signals “a new direction on immigration law and policy, moving away from the Trump Administration’s draconian policies,” the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said in a statement.

For Ramez Alghazzouli, a Syrian immigrant who had been separated from his wife for a year due to the travel ban, the reversal felt like someone had finally removed the boulder sitting on his chest for years.

Just imagine: he was separated from his wife “for a year.” Those whose relatives have been murdered by terrorists — the travel ban was meant as an anti-terrorist measure, designed to limit, however imperfectly, insufficiently vetted foreigners from entering our country — are separated from them not for a year, but forever. There is a difference.

But he [Ramez Alghazzouli] said Biden’s executive action cannot undo the damage done by the ban, which critics decried as racist, senseless and inhumane.

Critics may have decried the travel ban as “racist” but we really must insist, yet again, that Muslims do not constitute a “race,” no matter how often the word “racism” is trotted out by Defenders of the Faith. Go ahead, criticize Islam; don’t be cowed; such criticism does not make you a “racist.”

Nor is the ban on visitors from seven countries – five of them Muslim-majority — “senseless.” It makes perfect sense, if you are trying to monitor, for reasons of security, those who enter your country. If the government of the country of origin is unable or unwilling to supply sufficient information on its citizens to the American government, then it is reasonable for the Americans to bar visitors from those countries that cannot, or will not, provide such information. The Supreme Court found, in Hawaii v. Trump, the government’s reasons for the ban both compelling and constitutional.

“The ban itself will be reversed but no one can reverse our feelings and emotions and the time we lost while being separated from each other,” said Alghazzouli, who hopes his parents will soon be able to come to the U.S. and meet his baby. He said his mother’s immigrant visa is being held up due to the ban.

The self-pity and sense of entitlement of Ramez Alghazzouli are intolerable. Does he think the American government has no duty to protect its own citizens, by insisting on receiving sufficient information on those who wish to enter the country? But America has some kind of duty to let him, Ramez Alghazzouli, and all his tribe, in because….well, just because.

“It’ll still be part of our life and history,” he said. “The Muslim ban is the nuke that we survived but we are still suffering from its collateral damage.”

A “nuke,” forsooth! Good god. You were separated from your wife, Ramez Aghazzouli, because you chose not to join her abroad, in Turkey, where she lives in perfect security. And you are a business analyst who could conduct that line of work remotely, from anywhere. Is that “travel ban” that got in the way of your plans for one year really akin to a nuclear weapon? If you have a quarrel, surely it is with the Syrian government which refuses to share information on its citizens with the American government.

Let’s stop right here, and go back to the beginning of this story, when the first travel ban was imposed by the Trump Administration on visitors from seven countries.

Executive Order 13769 placed stringent restrictions on travel to the United States for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

In all of these seven Muslim-majority countries on the first version of the list, there has been either state support for terrorism (Iran, Sudan), or civil war (Libya, Syria, Yemen), or both (Iraq, Somalia). However, Iraq was dropped from the list, having apparently satisfied the American government that it was now better able to gather, and share information with it, about Iraqi citizens. Sudan, that had also been on the initial list, because it had been a state supporter of terrorism under the rule of Omar Bashir, was also taken off the list, as Bashir promised to cease such activities. Sudan also had a powerful friend in Washington, the U.A.E. ambassador, who lobbied to have Sudan dropped from the list; it was a way for the U.A.E. to pay Sudan back for having contributed troops to fight the Houthis in Yemen. The Trump administration complied; Sudan was taken off the list.

This left five Muslim-majority countries, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Iran, along with two non-Muslim countries, North Korea and Venezuela, added to the list, that were subject to the so-called “Muslim ban.” Those who claim, like the Boston Globe correspondent Michael Cohen, that this executive order was “clearly motivated by racism and xenophobia,” are wrong. There was no “racism” involved. Even had the ban covered only Muslim-majority countries, the ban would not have been motivated by “racism.” Distrust and dislike of Islam, and alarm about those who take the Qur’anic comments to heart, do not constitute “racism.” The Qur’an instructs Muslims that they are the “best of peoples” (3:110), while non-Muslims are “the most vile of created beings” (98:6). It further contains more than 100 verses that command Muslims to fight, to kill, to smite at the necks of, to strike terror in the hearts of, Infidels. If we are leery of, and hostile to, those who take those verses as immutable divine writ, that does not make us “racists.” “Racism” is the all-purpose charge, which many are eager to affix to any anti-Islamic sentiment, no matter how justified. And as for another common charge, “xenophobia,” if that travel ban was placed on seven countries, that leaves 186 countries whose citizens — foreigners all — were still allowed to come to the U.S. How does that merit being called “xenophobic”?

Not only was that ban not placed on “seven majority-Muslim countries,” but, as noted above, two Muslim-majority countries originally considered for the ban – Iraq and Sudan — were quickly taken off the list, and two non-Muslim countries added. If the Trump administration’s ban was motivated by anti-Islam animus, as Muslims insist, would dropping Iraq and Sudan from the list have made sense?

When the ban was challenged in the courts, it was upheld by the Supreme Court in Hawaii v. Trump. The majority opinion explained, and found credible, the reason for the ban: “The Proclamation placed entry restrictions on the nationals of eight [Iraq was later removed] foreign states whose systems for managing and sharing information about their nationals the President deemed inadequate.”

The Court found that the travel ban on those seven states was amply justified by reasons of security. None of those journalists and Muslim groups now praising Biden for reversing the ban ever mention the Supreme Court’s decision in Hawaii v. Trump, for if they did, they would have had to explain what led the Court to uphold the ban. Journalists want their audience to think there was no conceivable security justification for the ban; it was prompted, they insist, only by “racism” and “xenophobia.”

But most important of all – and almost never noted – is this fact: there are fifty-seven Muslim-majority countries. Five of them are on the list of countries covered by the first ban. That means fifty-two other Muslim-majority countries remained entirely unaffected by that so-called “Muslim ban.” It would take only a few minutes of searching the Internet and then some simple arithmetic to discover that 95% of the world’s Muslims remained unaffected by the ban. Since this startling statistic completely undermined the claim of a “Muslim ban,” the critics of the ban chose to pass over that figure in silence.

After the first ban, the Trump administration expanded its travel ban to six countries, four of them in Africa — including the region’s largest nation, Nigeria.

The six countries added to the ban were Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania. Nigeria is not Muslim-majority, but split 50-50 between its Christians and Muslims; since the overwhelming majority of Nigerians who come to the U.S. are Christians, it is they who were most affected by the ban. Eritrea has, according to the U.S. government, a slight Christian majority of 50%, and a Muslim minority of 48%; Sudan is 97% Muslim; Kyrgyzstan is 85% Muslim; Tanzania is 35% Muslim; Myanmar is only 4% Muslim. Thus, three of the six countries – Eritrea, Myanmar, and Tanzania — have non-Muslim majorities, and while a fourth, Nigeria, is evenly split between Muslims and Christians, the second ban negatively affected many more Christians because, as noted above, they come in larger numbers to the U.S. Why was Sudan, having been dropped from the first list of “banned” countries, placed back on the second list? Because the promise of Omar Bashir to renounce terrorism was not carried out, and the American government did not want to admit unvetted citizens of countries where terrorism is an accepted weapon.

Few mentioned this second “ban” imposed by the Trump administration, but when they do, they invariably called it the “second Muslim ban.” No one seemed to remember that this second ban included six countries, only two of which were majority-Muslim.

In other words, 6 of the 13 countries covered by the first and second “Muslim bans” were not Muslim-majority. Does the mass media care to correct the record?

One startling example of misplaced enthusiasm for Biden’s move in rescinding Trump’s two executive orders about a travel ban — those non-Muslim “Muslim bans” — came from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (Istanbul), who expressed “delight” at Biden’s “decision to lift the travel bans imposed on 13 nations with predominantly Muslim populations.”

There are two things to notice in this statement. First, the Ecumenical Patriarch, who ought to know what happens to Christians when Muslims invade (after all, what is now Turkey was once entirely Greek; today there are hardly any Greeks left, no more than 4,000 in a sea of 80 million Muslim Turks) expresses his “delight” that the travel bans have been lifted on “13 nations with predominantly Muslim populations.” Why is the Patriarch Bartholomew delighted? Does he think it splendid that more Muslims will be entering and settling down in the United States? Does he not recognize, as the American Supreme Court did, that the ban was justified as a security measure?

Second, he claims that “13 nations with predominantly Muslim populations” will no longer be subject to that ban. How did he arrive at “13 nations”? He simply assumed that all seven of the countries covered by the first ban, and all six of those covered by the second ban, were Muslim countries. Couldn’t he, before issuing this statement, and looking foolish before much of the world, have bothered to inform himself about the six countries that were covered by the two travel bans that are not Muslim-majority? To repeat, these are Venezuela and North Korea, covered by the first ban, and Myanmar, Tanzania, Eritrea and Nigeria, covered by the second. It is intolerable that the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople chose to express his “delight” with the rescinding of the bans, out of a feigned solidarity with his “Muslim brothers,” the descendants of those who expelled or killed millions of Orthodox Greeks and Armenians from what is now Turkey. On the subject of Islam, he is even more disturbing than Pope Francis. And it is unforgivable that he has misled tens of millions of the Orthodox, who look to him for guidance, in failing to note that only seven, not 13, Muslim-majority countries, were included in what so many will continue to call the two American “Muslim travel bans.”

What should the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople have done? He should have said nothing at all about the reversal of the bans. He could then have expressed his “delight” solely at the American return to the Paris Climate Accords. His silence on the other matter would have been most eloquent. He’s not free, of course, as the Greek Patriarch in Erdogan’s Turkey, to speak his mind. But he needn’t so cravenly mislead; he need not confuse people; he ought to have done a little homework before spouting off about “13 Muslim-majority nations.” Ideally, he ought to have remained silent.

The Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II, by contrast with Patriarch Bartholomew, was not — at least initially — to be cowed. On January 17, he stated in a televised address some unexpected, and welcome, thoughts on Islam. He said that “Islam is not a religion but a political party and pursuit, and its followers are people of war.” He added that “they are people who spread” [i.e. conquer] in that part of his speech devoted to Mehmet the Conqueror, who seized Constantinople on May 29, 1453, putting an end to the Byzantine Empire. Ieronymos II was then raked over the coals for this single explosion of candor. Erdogan was furious; Muslims all over demanded that he issue an apology. After several days of Muslim vituperation, outrage, and ever more hysterical threats, the Archdiocese of Athens issued not an apology but an explanationclaiming he meant only to criticize “the perversion of the Muslim religion itself by extreme fundamentalists, who sow terror and death throughout the Universe.” But no one is fooled. Everyone knows he meant what he originally said about Islam. Including you. Including me.

First published in Jihad Watch.


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