Saturday, February 18, 2017

USA: 'What about my American dream?' asks U. City resident, a Pakistani immigrant


“We will do anything to cooperate with anybody to make sure that everybody is safe. I don’t know what the philosophy behind it is. We want to understand the logic behind it.”

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By By Adam Aton | February 19, 2017

WASHINGTON • Tahir Zafar could have been a Donald Trump supporter.

Once an employee at a large corporation, he lost his job to outsourcing. The green card holder spent years moving around the country looking for work before settling in University City.

Violence has touched his family, leaving him a strong believer in law and order. And he thinks people would be better off with less government intrusion.

But as much as Zafar might sympathize with Trump’s supporters, the 56-year-old emigrant from Pakistan sees the president’s ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries as contrary to this country’s ideals.

“What about my American dream?” he asked Friday, joining about 100 other Muslims from across the country who came to the Capitol for the first major Islamic lobbying day since Trump signed the travel ban last month. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

A federal court has temporarily halted the travel ban, though the Trump administration has said it is preparing a replacement.

Trump campaigned on a pledge to enact a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” but the administration argues its executive order does not amount to a Muslim ban. The White House says the governments in those seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen — are either too dysfunctional or too hostile to serve as reliable counterparts in visa screenings, pointing to a 2015 law signed by then-President Barack Obama that tightens travel requirements for those countries.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, no one in the United States has been killed by a terrorist from any of those seven countries.

“We will do anything to cooperate with anybody to make sure that everybody is safe,” but Trump’s ban doesn’t seem to do that, Zafar said. “I don’t know what the philosophy behind it is. We want to understand the logic behind it.”

Meanwhile, polls show the public holds Islam in the lowest regard relative to other major religions, even as nearly half of Americans say they do not personally know a Muslim. There are 2.75 million Muslims in the United States, comprising a little less than 1 percent of the country’s population.

Islamic groups recognize that outreach to politicians does little without also connecting with the public.

After spending the morning in lawmakers’ offices, about 100 Muslims gathered in the Longworth House Office Building for Friday Prayers. White sheets were spread on the floor as the worshippers took off their shoes and kneeled in rows, the Capitol Dome rising ahead of them.

-- Edited


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