The president of the Islamic Society of Central New York says President Trump’s sudden immigration order is not the right way to keep the country safe. Mohamed Khater says he was caught off guard by how quickly it took effect.
“I honestly did not think that it was going to happen because it probably would have to go through Congress, whether to approve it or disapprove it," said Khater. "From my understanding from talking to everybody, Congress will not allow it to happen.”
The President’s executive order bans immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. The order aims to protect the U.S. from potential terrorists, but Khater suggests that it is doing just the opposite.
"It's clear discrimination against a certain religion, against Islamic religion. And that doesn't bode well with the Muslims around the world," Khater said. "The only people that this helps are the extremists on the other side.”
While the order does not directly state a ban on Muslims, Khater says it targets the wrong group of people.
"ISIS, of course, has killed a lot more Muslims than non Muslims. So people are fleeing persecution and bad conditions in their countries, and we say that these are the terrorists," Khater said. "We practically are pinning terrorism on them, which is definitely not the case."
This singling out of Muslims and Islam is not new. Khater says anti-Muslim sentiment was especially strong in the weeks and months after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. It’s ebbed and flowed ever since. Then, he says rhetoric from the GOP Presidential Primary candidates seemed to stir things up again.
"Depending on the election cycle, who is saying what, and that happened last year a lot," said Khater. "That raised the fear among people from Muslim [countries] and Islam, similar to what happened after 9-11.”
Khater says the president’s executive order has only perpetuated the negativity. He says it’s been carried out in public places.
"If they go to the mall or are walking in the streets or grocery stores, people just throw comments at Muslim- looking people or women who are wearing head scarves,” Khater said.
Khater says he’s also heard of harassment at middle and high schools. Protests against the executive order are expected to continue around the country throughout the week.