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Monday 29 May 2017

EXCLUSIVE: The people in Ireland affected by Trump's seven-country 'Muslim ban'

Independent.ie spoke to seven of these nationals and what the new
Independent.ie spoke to seven of these nationals and what the new "Muslim ban" means to them and their families
Mohamed Farah, President of PEDAN

Denise Calnan, Amy Molloy and Gavin White

The new US President Donald Trump has kept his election campaign promise and moved to ban the entry of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries into the US.

Nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will be prevented from entering the US under the new policy.

Independent.ie spoke to seven of these nationals who are all living in Ireland about what the new "Muslim ban" means to them and their families.

Tarek Raslan, originally from Syria  – "The root cause of the problem didn't start in 2001 after the Twin Towers"

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Tarek Raslan, who is a syrian national working in Dell in Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
 

"My mother is from Lebanon and my father is Syrian. I was born in Lebanon and have been living in Ireland for 12 years, and have an Irish and Syrian passport.

"Let me put it like this, it’s a long story but I’ll make it short. The American administration has caused a lot of trouble and now they are picking on certain countries which have suffered a lot from wars based on lies. They now want to ban certain people from accessing the country which will turn against them at a certain stage because it upsets a lot of nations.

"They are banning the wrong people. They are banning people who want to work. They were living in peace and harmony and they will now become refugees.

"While I respect the US administration, as I understand they are trying to fight terrorism, which is something that affects us all, why are they not banning people from Saudi Arabia, and only certain countries? They will not get to the real cause of the problem which is radical Islam.

"Terrorism has nothing to do with faith. Religion does not ask people to kill others.

"Before 2003, before the invasion of Iraq, the world was much better than it was now. Invasion and aggression make terrorism and banning people from accessing the country will not stop that.

"The root cause of the problem didn’t start in 2001 after the Twin Towers, it started a long time ago because of aggression, occupations and wars for the benefit of so called national security.

"As an IT professional, if I want to travel on a business trip to the US, how can I travel now? Because my background is Syrian, I am banned, even though I carry an Irish passport also."

Mohamed Farah, originally from Somalia - "Terror organisations may use this as a recruitment reason to try and move people to join them"

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Mohamed Farah, President of PEDAN
 

"I work full-time in Dell but I volunteer with and am president of PEDAN,  a non-profit European umbrella that unites Puntland diaspora organisations in Europe. We try and connect people and then connect them back to Somalia where they can contribute back home. I am also a family man. I came to Ireland 12 years ago and my family joined me two years ago.

"Trump’s temporary ban is confusing. This confusion started during the campaign trail when Mr Trump first mentioned his plans. Some people were thinking it is not possible, some people were not sure if he was serious. As things moved along, we realised this is real and now it is a reality.

"Although Mr Trump and his administration are doing this on the basis of protecting America, even if you look at the people who carried out terrorist activities against America were not mainly from those countries.

"The question is does it really help what everybody wanted which is the protection of the American people. We don’t think this will help. In contrast in fact, terror organisations may use this as a recruitment reason to try and move people on their online campaign and to try and give them a reason to join them. They will use this example as their cause.

"I’m really very glad the American population are not leaving it and sitting back, they are taking legal avenues and this really gives us the assurance that it’s a country of democracy and a country of principles.

"I don’t know of anyone directly affected in Ireland, but I know of some friends who are. One lady lives here and her husband is a US citizen and living in the US. Each is a legal resident in their own country but they may not be able to see each other.

"There is a possibility we can all take this further and perhaps arrange a community meeting in Ireland with people who are directly affected by this."

Ibrahim Hashem, originally from Yemen - "It’s racism at the end of the day"

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Ibrahim Hashem, from Yemen, and his children Hanan (7), Mallak (13) and Sultan (11) who are now affected by President Trumps ban on migrants from Somalia. Photo: Arthur Carron
 

“I moved my family to Ireland in 2014, I have three children and my daughter is an Irish citizen. I work as a PR consultant.

“It is very disappointing for me as a Yemeni. I have family in Yemen, and it is the US who have been supporting the war in our country and have destroyed our economy.

“Now the situation is so dire and the country is going through a famine. There are blockades at airports and ports and there is no food coming in.

“People are lining up to get home to Yemen and they’re stuck. When you bomb someone and then close their doors and ban them coming in, it doesn’t become normal anymore.

“I studied in America and I know it very well, it’s not the same as it used to be pre 9/11.

“Everybody used to cheer for Obama but they didn’t really understand his foreign policy. Yemen is one of the countries that was on his original list. It’s based around strategic interest, there has been no terrorist attack from any of the countries on the list.

“My mother and two sisters live in the States and I have another sister who lives in Paris who is an American citizen.

“Now there is confusion because my brother had planned to visit my mother in the States, she is in her eighties and she needs care.

“Now he has to basically wait and we’re wondering should we move her from the States and potentially bring her to the UK or Ireland.

“The family aspect is very important. It’s disappointing that a country that preaches itself as a democracy is actually a flawed system.

"The US is supporting wars against our country yet when citizens flee, they are banned from entering the US. I always say thank god I am here in Ireland.

“Other countries don’t accept this. It’s good that Ireland are responding like this [Minister Zappone’s suggestion to remove US officials from Irish airports], it’s not an Irish policy. It’s racism at the end of the day.”

Heidar Al-Hashimi, originally from Iraq  - “Trump should look back at the history of Islam”

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Heidar Al-Hashimi from Iraq
 

“I’m from Baghdad in Iraq. I moved to Ireland in 2009 and I was an asylum seeker for five years.

“I feel like they are now stopping people who are flying away from tragic situations and it is just going to create more refugees.

“They are doing this because of people like ISIS, but Trump should look back at history and he will realise this is not the reality of Islam.

“Bernard Shaw, for example, he wrote about how all religions are similar and we are all related to one God. People should read more from people like him. He understood.

“I am studying here in Ireland to better myself. I am now in NUIG doing a masters in family support studies. And like me, many people leave to go to other places so they can have a better life.”

Raz Ieh Nikoomanesh, originally from Iran– "I want Trump to know that Iranian people go to America for a better life - we have been running away from Iran"

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Raz Ieh Nikoomanesh, originally from Iran
 

"I’m from Iran and I’ve been living in Ireland for 16 years. I came as a student.

"People always talk about Trump in a negative way. At the beginning I didn’t know if he was real or just bluffing to win the election, but as he banned the Muslim countries, well, now it’s real.

"First of all, home is where the heart is. Home is not always the place between the borders. People choose to live in America, they are part of America.

"I want Trump to know that Iranian people go to America for a better life - we have been running away from Iran.

"My sister now has American citizenship but she is home in Iran on holidays and now she doesn’t know what will happen when she goes back to the US. She says she will have no problem but nobody knows."

Faheem Bukhatwa, originally from Libya - “A nation like the United States has a responsibility to do the right thing. They need to be seen to act responsibly"

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Faheem Bukhatwa, who lectures in Griffith College Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
 

"I'm from Libya and I'm a Lecturer in Griffith College Dublin in Computer Science.

"It has hard to think of the purpose it serves. The Libyan population is small and very few emigrate to America.

"Besides people who have to seek refuge over the last forty years there has been very little emigration, especially since Gaddafi left.

"It was thanks to America and France that he left but they pulled out immediately creating more fighting before people settled.

"It is clear [Trump] is targeting Muslims for this Islamic terrorism more than anyone else.

"I don’t know how this list came about. The 9/11 terrorist attacks were perpetrated by Saudi Arabia and Egypt where they clearly have business interests.

"Everybody who has to travel there is worried. All their plans are gone, all their stability is gone.

"A nation like the United States has a responsibility to do the right thing. They need to be seen to act responsibly.

"It is a country of freedom and lets be honest here, it is a country created by immigrants.

"This ban will encourage groups and parties in Europe who have the same mind-set. This will be an opportunity for them when they see a President taking these attitudes.

"Who knows what will happen in the future. It is Muslims today then it could be Jews tomorrow.

"I actually have two sons who went on a soccer trip to America last year and well, now they can’t go.

“I would like to see the Department of Foreign Affairs talk to their counterparts in the US and try to convince change."

Abdullahi Alazreg, originally from Sudan - "It gives a bad name to a country that is known for its peace,  friendliness and hatred for terrorism"

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Ambassador of Sudan to Ireland Abdullahi Alazreg pictured at the Embassy on Dublin’s Herbert Street. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
 

"It’s not fair at all. I know some people from other countries who have committed terrorist acts against Americans and their countries are not put on the list, what kind of justice is this?

"Sudan is a very peaceful, friendly country and we have thousands and thousands of Sudanese that live in America, work in America and who are known for their friendliness.

"The ambassador for the Netherlands will cycle through the streets of Khartoum without guards and all foreign European diplomats are roaming the capital and I know that Sudan is far more peaceful than all other European countries and far more peaceful, for sure, than America itself.

"It gives a bad name to a country that is known for its peace, friendliness and hatred for terrorism. A country that hasn’t committed a terrorist attack since 9/11 that is included in this ban list is very bad.

"You can not punish a whole country because one terrorist committed a crime against somebody else, it’s quite unfair. This collective punishment is not justice.

"Sudan has been listed from American sanctions imposed on Sudan. It was lifted only two weeks ago. So it is quite strange that Barack Obama lifted Sudan from this sanction list and only two weeks later we find ourselves in a list punished by Trump which is unfair to the people and the government.

"We are looking for a real strong relationship with the American government and the American people. We are helping American and European governments against human trafficking and illegal immigration so we are actually helping these countries.

"All other countries are appreciative of our help and yet we find ourselves on this ban list preventing our peaceful people from going to America.

"We have students and professionals studying and working there helping the American economy and we think this is quite unfair.

"This is not reasonable justification, it is just something random."

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