By Husnaa Vhora
Over 800 hundred people filed into Islamic Foundation in Villa Park on Sunday, February 5 to learn “How to challenge the #MuslimBan.” The ban, which President Donald Trump served as an executive order late last month, restricts incoming travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, including refugees from war-torn Syria.
Attendees of the event all came with the same agenda – to learn about how the Muslim ban affects the community, what people should expect, and how to build coalitions to mobilize the broader community. CIOGC was joined by Senator Richard Durbin, interfaith partners from Dominican University and the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago (CRLMC), Latino leaders from the Resurrection Project and Alianza Americas, and legal leaders from American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Council of American-Islamic Relations – Chicago (CAIR-Chicago), and the Muslim Bar Association (MBA) to directly challenge the ban.
This gathering was just one of the hundreds of movements happening around the country to educate people about all that the “Muslim ban” encompasses, but more importantly to bring people together in spreading unity, love, and solidarity with Muslims and refugees.
Father Brendan Curran of Dominican University started his speech by chanting “No ban, no wall, no ban, no wall,” before addressing the crowd with his words of support. “I am called to stand with you. Now is not the time to turn away from plight, oppression and desperation. It is not the time to turn away from each of you, my Muslim sisters and brothers.”
While the program was about the Muslim ban, it also touched upon other marginalized communities like the Latino community, which could be affected by Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Erendira Rendon, Director of National Partnerships at the Resurrection Project, spoke about how attacks on the Muslim community are an attack on the Latino community. “We know that these attacks will continue, and as deportations rise and Muslims continue being attacked, we will make sure that we stand together and keep fighting together.”
Groups like the ACLU, CAIR-Chicago, and CIOGC have been very active in response to the Muslim ban by working with public officials and the legal community on behalf of those whose rights have been violated. Colleen Connell, the Executive Director of the ACLU in Illinois, urged the crowd to continue supporting these groups as they work to defend individuals affected by the ban. She also said that now more than ever, “We must all stand united in assuring that our country and everyone in it knows that Muslims are not a threat to our national security, and it is unconstitutional and un-American to suggest otherwise.”
Senator Richard Durbin, a longtime friend of the Muslim community, took the podium and won the crowd over right away as he began his speech with the words, “My fellow immigrants…” He later revisited that point by narrating his own story. “My mother was an immigrant from Lithuania and now her son has the honor of representing you in the United States Senate.” Durbin promised to keep fighting for the community and stated that “We don’t know what the next executive order will say, but if they’re coming for the dreamers, they’ll have to come through me.”