Islamic Center Of Nashville

Nashville imam: President Trump is wrong on Muslim ban

On Friday our president signed an executive order on immigration; regrettably, this order is effectively a “Muslim ban” and as such requires strong and strenuous objection.

As a nation, we Americans strive to promote and preserve democracy and rule of law whenever and wherever there is need. Our own American experience grew out of the necessity in this world to create a safe haven from religious persecution, where equality and justice reigned; this was the cornerstone for the political philosophy which served as the basis of our Declaration of Independence and our beloved Constitution.

Everyday, our service men and women sacrifice life and limb throughout the world to aid and assist in the freedom of nations and maintaining these American principles; and, the world has been, by in far, better for their sacrifice. This Executive Order not only undercuts our democracy and the principles that support our democracy, it betrays both our soldiers’ immense sacrifice and the people they saved.

Where now does our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness stand? Where now does our proclamation to welcome your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free stand? Have these words been rendered meaningless by the stroke of our President’s pen? Does this not undermine the values and goals that our military have so selflessly served to achieve? Moreover, what of their safety now?

Until last Friday I was able to confidently argue with people that it is radicalism and not Islam that is the target of the American government. Now, I have lost much of my high ground because of the obvious discrimination and the targeting of Muslims in the recent executive order.

My genuine concern now is that this type of action will create more paths for young folks to become radicalized. Sadly, these actions will make America less safe, through hatred and loss of allies, rather than more safe.

Those in support of this Order, claim that safety and security of our nation demands this action be taken. I disagree. I believe that eliminating particular countries’ citizens is counterproductive; we will actually be less safe. Several countries have already spoken out and promised reciprocal measures. Where does this put our military in those countries? What of the US civilian workers in those countries?

“We want to stop radicalism” is what is being echoed. We all agree that it is necessary to stop radicalism of any kind. Radicalism is an ideology that can be stopped by investing in democracy, education, building bridges of understanding, and stamping out marginalization. Not through isolationism or discrimination. It is not an easy path, but democracy is not easy.

I want to remind all my friends and neighbors that fundamentalism has the same character traits in all groups. Fundamentalists isolate themselves, they have a sense of selfishness, investing in proving others wrong and are unable to see similarities. This is true of fundamentalists of every race and creed.

Fortunately, the fundamentalists are the minority and, we, the majority will not remain quiet.

The last few days I have been overwhelmed with the offer of support for Muslim rights.

I thank you all. Collectively, my friends, you represent the core values of this country and the principles that are the bedrock of our constitution and this nation. We have all worked hard to create and enforce an inclusive, diverse and conscientious community where all feel welcome and respected.

Our core values include helping our neighbors, advocating on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed and those in need, and responding to the worst humanitarian disaster of this generation by welcoming Syrian refugees, as we have welcomed so many other refugees in the past; because, unlike the current Administration, that has deemed the Syrian refugees as unworthy of saving, we know better.

The president’s executive orders are hurting Americans around the world, and are antithetical to our nation's core values.

I am a proud American Muslim and I raise my children to be the same. I will continue to cherish my religion and will not hide in fear. I will stand for my rights and the rights of others. I recognize the challenges and believe that if we all stand together we can overcome anything.

Imam Ossama Bahloul, Ph.D., is resident scholar of the Islamic Center of Nashville