Muslim Students and Allies Rally After Trump Travel Ban Upheld


Sakshi Venkatraman

RJ Khalaf, president of the NYU Muslim Student Association, spoke at the Emergency Rally Against the Muslim Ban today in Kimmel Center.

Sakshi Venkatraman, Deputy News Editor

The Muslim Students Association held an Emergency Rally Against the Muslim Ban in the Kimmel Center for University Life today in protest of the U.S. Supreme Court upholding President Donald Trump’s travel ban yesterday.

In less than 24 hours, MSA president and GLS senior RJ Khalaf, along with a few friends, organized the rally on the steps of the Kimmel. Around 150 students attended the rally, which featured rousing speeches, prayers and poetry recited by Muslim students and faculty.

CAS senior Fadumo Osman, president of NYU College Democrats and an active member of the MSA, spoke to the crowd about how the ban will prevent her Somali parents from coming to her graduation in Spring 2018.

Osman, like most of the speakers at the rally, was extremely critical of the current state of the U.S. government. She grouped Monday’s decision with other cases that have negatively impacted Black Americans, Japanese Americans and Native Americans.

“Do not leave your faith in the Supreme Court,” she said. “The Constitution will not be our savior. We have to save ourselves.”

The Supreme Court’s decision means that the Trump administration’s ban can fully enforce restrictions against travel from eight countries — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea, along with some groups of people from Venezuela.

Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Marc Wais represented NYU’s stance on the Court’s decision.

“As we look around today, we know what it is that makes our university, our city and our country great,” Wais said. “Diversity, respect, inclusion and common sense of justice. There will be a just outcome. And until that day of justice comes, the university will continue to do its part in supporting the case against the travel ban.”

Many students attended the rally in solidarity with their Muslim peers.

“[I’m supporting] the right of people to move freely,” Gallatin junior Jonathan Marty said. “They’re banning Muslims from the countries they’re from minus the ones that [Trump] is financially tied to like Saudi Arabia. It’s honestly very scary and I’m glad that other people here feel the same way.”

CAS junior Leen Dweik attended the rally and said he believes it is important to come together and stand against bigotry and racism.

“You have to resist microaggressions against Muslims in order to call yourself a true ally and fight this travel ban,” Dweik said. “If you believe Islam is inherently violent or oppresses women or is not compatible with leftism, you are part of the problem.”

When Khalaf himself heard about the travel ban, he didn’t believe he was looking at a real news story.

“I was in disbelief, for sure,” he said. “I didn’t think it was a real update. When I found out about it, I checked the credibility of the news source that said it because I didn’t believe that it was true. That disbelief turned into anger and that anger turned into action.”

Khalaf said the use of the Kimmel stairs was an effort to bring the message to an area of high student traffic.

“We think it’s really important to bring awareness to the fact that the Muslim ban is a reality,” he said. “While the Supreme Court decision is not final, it’s important that we stand up as a community to speak truth to power and say ‘this is not okay, this will never be okay and just because something’s lawful doesn’t mean it’s right.’”

Email Sakshi Venkatraman at [email protected]