Op-Ed: I’m a Muslim Immigrant and I’m Not Going Anywhere

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This Muslim ban is atrocious. We didn’t want to believe it would ever happen, but I think the Muslim community all felt it coming. The years following 9/11 have been hard if you’ve been Muslim. Anti-Islamic news stories and the consistent portrayal of Muslims as terrorists in the news have been feeding Islamophobia in people for over a decade now. The Muslim Ban in the United States right now is inhumane, terrible and it feels like the start of what is going to be a huge battle for freedom and justice. Don’t you feel like we’re in a comic book right now? What’s left of humanity vs. the bigots, racists, Nazis and evil rich white men.

Talk to any Muslim friend you know. I bet the majority of them will tell you that going to the airport gives them anxiety. I am not recognizably Muslim. I am Pakistani but I don’t wear hijab and it would be hard to identify me as Muslim unless you saw my name. Yet, I still get pulled over in airports. I’ve had someone in the US sigh when handed my passport after I was taken away by TSA for extra searching and proclaim to her workmate “Not another Indian” and I’ve been detained in Amsterdam for absolutely no reason. When my passport was handed back to me they said there was a man with Hassan as his surname on the no-fly list, I complained there are millions of Hassan’s in the world and was told “Why don’t you change your surname to something less Islamic?”


The people being persecuted right now are not members of ISIS. They don’t have extreme views. They don’t want war on Western Civilization. They are doctors, nurses, teachers, nannies, cab drivers, chicken shop owners, chefs and more. They have families here. They are productively contributing to countries they have immigrated to, or in the case of the next generation, were born in. Muslims aren’t all Arab or South Asian, which is what you get stereotyped as (or when someone is being racist and shouting at you they will often call you A-rab or Paki). They are actually more Chinese Muslims in the world than Arab. They come in all size, all races, all nationalities and the deliberate persecution of those from Arab and African countries is disgusting.

ISIS have killed more Muslims than they have non-Muslims, but the bombings in Muslim countries are far less reported on than the ones in Western countries. To say ISIS are Islamic is ridiculous, they may claim they are acting for Allah, but they are killing everyone with no regard to religion. Their goal is to create fear in people, and that is the same goal that Donald Trump and his right wing, white supremacist filled government have too. Fear is how you control people; fear is how you get what you want. The persecution and isolation of the Muslim community plays right into ISIS’s hands and the government know that.

@dearmrchrist posted pictures of Muslims in Iran on Twitter. They are just like us.

But what they forget is that the Muslim Community believes in love, peace and understanding. That’s the basis of Islam. At its roots it’s about peace. Like all religions it has been changed over time, it’s as imperfect as every religion, but it’s not a religion founded on violence. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in this world and nearly all of them hate terrorism as much as everyone else. But 1.6 billion Muslims are tarnished by the act of a small percentage, we are held accountable for things we did not do and have no connections with because of our faith. The terrorists that are Muslim are never portrayed as having mental illnesses, or being lone wolves like white terrorists are.

Immigration makes countries great, the UK would still have really bland terrible food if the different countries from the Commonwealth hadn’t started to immigrate there. They brought all the good food with them and now curry is the national dish of the UK. We have so much to learn from each other, so much to give to each other and honestly the idea of imaginary borders keeping out human beings from places on Earth has always been baffling to me. But this is what we get when we live in a climate that is based on keeping people scared.

I’m an immigrant in the US and I’m afraid to leave right now in case they won’t let me back in again. I have family back home, I want to see them, but I risk jeopardizing my education and my work if I do. Many people are in the same boat, if we leave to see our families we lose lives we have been building here in America.


I assume most people who read this are already fighting to help Muslims get into the United States, but if you are reading this and you have a negative opinion on Islam do me a favour. Go find the local mosque in your community, and if you don’t have one maybe go find the Muslim family in your community. Talk to some real Muslims who live around you, see what kind of people they are. I fear that so many of you are just basing your opinions on what the media and corrupt politicians are feeding you, and you need to be able to see that the people you are afraid of are not the villains you think they are.

I’m going to end this saying WE ALL COME FROM IMMIGRANTS. If you are a white American, you are the descendent of an immigrant. People are escaping countries that are war torn, they are escaping violence and persecution and looking for safety. We are able to offer then safety, hope and the chance to start their lives over. Why would we not do that?


– Maryam


Editor’s Note – This post is our first official Op-Ed on The Alternative. While all music discussion and reviews are opinion, Op-Ed articles are meant to be a place where our contributors can express their own views and ideas. All stances taken in Op-Ed articles are the opinions of the author and are not meant to represent the opinions of The Alternative. I hope that through these pieces we will be able to open up a discussion on a number of issues.