by Cyrus dos Santos
Amongst a family from Syria, a student from Bosnia and others, Central Connecticut State University students came together Monday evening to raise awareness and voice their concerns of the growing intolerance for Muslims in America.
Amid further action from President Donald Trump to ban the entrance of immigrants from predominantly Muslim Countries, CCSU students gathered for an open-forum discussion on a variety of issues hosted by the Muslim Student Association.
We want to bring awareness to who we are, and how it affects us in society,” said MSA President Isra’a Alsaqri. “And with Trump being our president, how that affects us.”
Students from CCSU’s theater department read from the “Gaza Monologues,” a dramatic look into the suffrage within the Gaza Strip.
Although the concentration on Muslims in the news tends to be focused on The Middle East and Africa, students from predominately Muslim populations in Europe came to speak.
“We didn’t come here for a better life,” said CCSU junior, Semra Efendic. “We came here to have a life.”
Efendic, a refugee from Bosnia, came to the United States in 2001 after her native country was torn by war. “Everyone’s scattered, my family included.”
Efendic’s family was able to escape their turmoil due to a lottery that her mother entered the family in.
Guests of the open forum included a family of refugees from Syria. The family of nine arrived in December of 2016.
Muhamed and Aysha Marri arrived in New Britain with their seven children, ages 1-11, through Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities, a non-profit out of Connecticut, mission is “Motivated by Christ’s social teachings and respect for the richness of diversity,” according to their web site. They stand to promote diversity and equality.
Catholic Charities provides the Marri’s with food and rent for six months while they get settled into their new surroundings. After that, “they are on their own,” according to the family’s translator, Ghoufran Allababidi, a Syrian immigrant who came to the United States in 2000.
The children that are of age, have enrolled in the New Britain Public School System, “with difficulties, of course,” said Allababidi.
Through translation, the family expressed that they miss their family, “because they left everything behind,” said Allababidi.
At the onset of the war in Syria, Marri and his family fled to Turkey, where they lived in a refugee camp. Three of the children were born there. There was no school and they were living in a tent as, Allababidi explained.
She spoke openly of a fear of the regime in Syria and that most refugees believe “the walls have ears.”
After three years in the camp, and two more years of extensive vetting, the family was finally allowed to enter the United States.
“Do these kids really deserve to live in turmoil?” Ahmad Badr asked as the conversation quickly returned to Trump’s recent actions.
Trump signed a revision of his controversial immigration ban, known collectively as the “Muslim Ban,” Monday morning. The revised law now excludes Iraq from the travel ban as well as the provision that gave priorities to religious minorities from the remaining banned countries.
Trump’s ban on Syrian refugees, which was formally categorized as “indefinite,” has now been given a 120-day ban, according to reports from The New York Times. The ban will be up for review after the 120 days.
Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen still remain on the list of Trump’s travel ban.
CCSU President Zulma Toro released a statement after Trump’s original executive order, that said, “I want to say on behalf of the university that we stand in compassionate solidarity with our Muslim students and colleagues.”