By FAGA TUIGAMALA

 

President Trump has caused an uproar around the world after an executive order was put in place banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. In addition to this, admission of all refugees will be prohibited for the next 120 days.

Even holders of U.S. Green Cards, such as international students and translators for the U.S. army, were among many not allowed on American soil. These seven countries have been targeted in an effort to combat entry of potential foreign terrorists, according to the Trump administration. But why them? Why these seven countries?

Citizens of these nations have long been villainised by the media, heavily stereotyped by the uninformed and marginalised by many leaders of the Western world. The current situation proves to be no different. The fact that Trump’s administration has targeted these Muslim-majority countries only continues to illustrate their citizens in an unfair light. This hateful propaganda needs to stop and be eradicated.

As expected, the contentious act has led to a universal backlash. The ban has triggered mass protests at airports across the U.S. and even around the world! There will even be one at Auckland’s Aotea Square on February 7th from 6pm-8pm. Notably, thousands in the UK, which included former refugees and human rights lawyers, marched in support of the victims. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, has been very vocal about it all. He tweeted, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.”

As for New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Bill English, his wavering stance on Trump’s ban has brought him much criticism. The Green and Labour parties are both against Trump’s actions and have urged English to be more outspoken and clear-cut.

Our Prime Minister has only been dropping hints, but I feel that he needs to be resolute with how he addresses the situation. Several world leaders have made their voices heard, yet New Zealand’s lack of one only makes us look weak and inconsistent with our beliefs. There are many Muslims living here in Aotearoa and they need to know that their own Prime Minister supports them and is not afraid to stand up for this country’s values.

As Albert Einstein famously quoted, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

By standing by and doing nothing, we are basically telling everyone that we are okay with discrimination, prejudice and innocent foreigners being targeted. 

If you can protest, protest. Spread awareness. Sign a petition. Speak out against something if it doesn’t sit well with you. Reassure your Muslim friends that you see them as human beings, not as potential terrorists.

In a world scarred by fear, propaganda and war, we need love and friendship to dominate negativity. Diversity is what makes the universe beautiful. Let’s celebrate our differences instead of letting them divide us.

 

Think the refugee quota in NZ needs to be doubled? Head over to Action Station to make your voice heard!

FAGA TUIGAMALA,  simply known as ‘Fang’, is a short-sighted music nerd who laughs too much. Keep up with the eccentric pianist on Instagram: @fangtuigamala

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