BY KARINA BLODNIEKS
In a slew of controversial executive orders, one seemed to stand out to the American populace. Trump’s January 27 order issued a travel ban for seven majority-Muslim countries, sparking mass “No Ban, No Wall” protests across the country.
At Cooper City High School, many students felt the brunt of this religiously-charged mandate.
“I feel like the ethical approach they embarked on somewhat inferiorized the Muslims throughout the U.S.,” sophomore Neehal Hussain said.
The order was so politically provocative that the New York Times editorial board referred to it as “cowardly,” citing xenophobia as the root of the action.
While the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals halted the travel ban for the time being, no official overturn has been issued.
“The appeals court challenged the administration’s claim that the ban was motivated by terrorism fears, but it also questioned the argument of an attorney challenging the executive order on grounds that it unconstitutionally targeted Muslims,” wrote the Chicago Tribune.
What many Muslim students are concerned with, however, are the deeper sentiments it unveiled.
“[Trump’s] speech has constantly put emphasis on the already existing connotation of Muslims,” sophomore Faezah Rahman said.
In particular, the Trump administration invoked terrorism as the cause of the ban, specifically citing 9/11; however, the designated countries did not include the original nations of any U.S.-threatening terrorist attackers, wrote the New York Times. This discrepancy is leading people to question the motivation of the order, but the official court decision should be released in coming days.
“Not every single Muslim is a terrorist,” junior Zohra Quazi said. “There are good and bad people in every religion and faith. Some people just want a home and to be safe and away from the war and tensions in their country.”
This sentiment is felt throughout the Muslim population, and sophomore Hiba Ali commented that it is a lack of knowledge that drives this.
“Trump does not understand our religion, nor does he bother to educate himself on the topic, which, as president of such a diverse nation, he should have taken the time to do,” Ali said. “People who are pro-Trump are going off of what he has said about Muslims because they think as a man who typically appeals to ethos, that he knows what he is talking about.”
In retaliation against the order, many protesters began forming “No Ban, No Wall” marches to highlight the racism they felt was underlying the action.
In many ways, Quazi said, these protests have made her feel accepted for the first time in her life.
“It makes me feel a little happier that there are a bunch of people out there supporting Muslims across the country and across the world,” Quazi said.
Some Muslim students are finding ways to fight negative perceptions on campus. Sophomores Neehal Hussain and Hiba Ali are working to create a Muslim Students Association, aimed at operating on the behalf of all the Muslims at CCHS.
While they’re still early in the process and the club lacks administrative approval at this point, their ideas are clear.
“Our goal is to bring the Muslims together for special events happening at different areas for this national association,” Hussain said. “We want to inspire them to simply do their Muslim thing.”
For other Muslim students, participating in a vocal forum is the first step to change. Rahman noted that the inclusion of minority voices in the prevalent discourse is important for the future.
But at the same time, this doesn’t assuage the current fears.
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve been let down by what I thought to be a progressing society,” Rahman said. “I’ve been more on edge now than I’ve ever been.”
But this isn’t the end of the story. Through collaborative work, many believe that the tension can be settled.
“As Muslims, we are not upset or angry at the ignorance of these people, we just wish that they would take the time to appreciate our culture and religion just as we have done theirs,” Ali said “We love this nation, that’s why we came.”
In so far as recognizing and deconstructing negative views, the population of Muslim students at CCHS simply want to normalize themselves.
“Growing up in America, I never really considered myself anything else [but American],” Quazi said. “It’s just like being Christian or Jewish. You just believe in your God, you pray, you’re just a normal person.”