Extremist and islamophobic are terms one wouldn’t associate with a head of state on a normal basis, but then the incumbent and newly elected 45th president of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump, is being called just that.
The United States had always been a projection of tolerance and the bedrock values that define the nation include being welcoming and becoming a safe home to people suffering from terrorism. However, Mr. Trump throughout his campaign had always maintained an anti-Islamic narrative and true to his election propaganda Mr. Trump has put a blanket ‘travel ban’ on 7 Muslim-majority nations for the next 90 days and suspended entry of refugees into the States for the next 120 days which has in effect banned more than 200 million people from the United States. The travel ban has been termed by most as a ban on Muslims and the Islamic community in general.
The 7 banned countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya.
In the aftermath of the executive order being signed chaos, confusion and despair followed at airports and ports due to the fact that there are approved refugees, valid visa holders and non-US dual citizens who have been banned from entering the states or are ordered out of the states as well as a result of the ban. Many immigration lawyers have advised people against leaving the country in the apprehension that may not be allowed to re-enter. Apart from being barred from the United States, people within the country who have their families in the 7 banned countries are at a risk of being separated from their families.
On the business front, companies such as Google, having employees from across the globe are the hardest hit and this ban will most likely have a bearing on the hiring and trading policies of such companies.
While the White House has denied the tag of ‘Muslim ban’ and has claimed that it is a mere extension of and similar to the policy of 2011 that the then President Obama had followed wherein he had banned visas of Iraqi refugees for a period of 6 months, yet this defense has been quite hard to sell as even though prima facie it is not a ban on Muslims but on the people of the 7 banned nations in general but Muslims are bound to be discriminated on the basis that after the initial 120 days the minority, i.e. Christians, would be exempt from the ban.
Apart from being ridiculed, another attack on the executive order was the legality (or illegality) of the order. While the executive order was being signed, people from the 7 banned countries, with valid visas and airline tickets were already in transit to the States and were stopped and detained in the airports causing a chaos. On Saturday night, however, a federal judge, Judge Ann Donnelly granted an emergency stay for the people in transit and those who have arrived stating that they cannot be deported back although the same stay order does not state immediate release of the persons detained at the airport. The order stated that government could not deport the individuals as “The petitioners have a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioner and other similarly situated violates their due process and equal protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution,”
The legal opponents of the order have voiced their oppositions mainly on two fronts: First, it violates the first amendment – freedom of religion – by setting an unconstitutional religious test. Second, violation of the Fifth Amendment – due process of law. However, it may be notable that the Supreme Court has, as a matter of precedent, granted wide powers to the President over the nation’s boundaries. Thus, legally, there may not be a proper recourse out of it.
The question that arises next is that whether such a ban would indeed weed out radical Islamism and make America a safer place. The answer does not seem to be rather convincing given the fact that all major attacks, since the 9/11 attack on the twin towers, have been the handiwork of American citizens or legal permanent residents i.e. people who had no formal training, although they have claimed allegiance to, the ISIS or al-Qaeda. The ban looks comical when placed in light of the fact that 15 out of the 19 attackers involved in the 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia and the rest of Lebanon, Egypt and UAE, the base of Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Pakistan and Tunisia, the highest contributors to the ISIS army, have not been added to the list.
Experts in the field have raised the concern that fighters who have fought in Syria and have European Union passport should be allowed to enter America without a visa and the latest order has no remedy for the same.
The order in fact can rather end up in having an aggravating effect by strengthening the anti-US narrative amongst the extremists by projecting that this ban is against and targeted for a race and a nationality rather than upon terrorism, which is convincing as Mr. Trump had himself in his campaign called for “total and complete shutdown of Muslims.”
THE CONTRARY SCHOOL OF THOUGHT
While the executive order as was expected has received a lot of backlash a particular school of thought, reflected by former Pakistani cricketing maestro and present head of Pakistan’s second largest political party, Imran Khan has stated that he indeed welcomes such a travel ban and would have been rather glad if it had Pakistan on its list. The reasoning for his thought was that it would-would force countries to fix their own internal policies rather than depending on the United States to do the same.
And if one was to look at it objectively, and if this is indeed his end goal, then it is highly beneficial for the Trump government and the United States in the long run to change the status quo and shake up the government to have a bottom-up change in its policy as even after billions of dollars being spent on the US-Muslim interaction and “winning hearts and minds” the outcomes have been far from welcome and the consistency of the rise of corrupt leaders, political instability and the resultant failure to deal with terrorism have been nothing short of appalling.