Interfaith groups protest Trump’s revised travel ban, citing hate crimes

by Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN News

SANTA CLARA, CA — A month after federal judges blocked key parts of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban order — a new one has been signed to take its place, which temporarily blocks the entry of people coming from six majority Muslim countries to the US for 90 days.

In the Bay Area, the Islamic Networks Group, ING, held a press conference Monday with their interfaith partners denouncing the re-written travel ban.

They say that the travel ban has not necessarily changed because it is still rooted in Islamophobia — which is creating a culture of hate in America.

“This irrational fear that many Americans have of Islam and Muslims, and the resulting hate crimes and hate incidents, the bullying against Muslim children at schools — which is up to one out of two Muslim kids — are impacted by Islamophobia,” said Maha Elgenaidi, ING Chief Exec. Officer.

“People just don’t understand people of different ethnicities and religions traditions,” said Kate Chance, ING interfaith coordinator. “So I believe that we have to begin by getting to know one another and increasing religious literacy.”

Their interfaith partners, who represent the major religions in the Silicon Valley, say they are proud to stand with their Muslim brothers and sisters.

“If we are going to be defending religious liberty in this nation, which is one of the bedrock affirmations that we make in the very First Amendment in the Constitution, and cannot stand up and defend others,” said Rev. D. Andrew Kille, from Silicon Valley Interreligious Council. “At this time then we are in danger of losing the vision that built this nation.”

These religious leaders say that the recent hate crimes have links to the past and fear they will continue if people remain silent.

“The rise of xenophobia has unleashed anti-Semitism that we haven’t seen for decades in this country,” said Diane Fisher, of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley. “The attacks on jewish cemeteries are just heartbreaking.”

Fr. Jon Pedigo, from the Catholic diocese of San Jose, also commented.

“In our own past, our immigrant community have faced incredible discrimination. The Irish when they came, the Filipinos when they came, the Asian Catholics when they came,” said Pedigo. “As well as the Poles, the Lithuanians… they were pilloried. They were discriminated against, and the question is when are we going to learn our lesson?”

For its part, the Trump administration maintains that the revised executive order is not a ban on Muslims, but rather a safety measure which temporarily halts entry into the US from six countries that cannot adequately vet and screen travelers.

ING and its interfaith partners say there are already events planned to meet with the community, to build solidarity, and combat the hate from what they believe is based on this current travel ban and the Trump administration.

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