Several hundred protesters march against Trump Muslim immigration ban
Nearly 500 people gathered outside the Bovee University Center at noon on Tuesday to protest an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Friday, Jan. 27. The ban blocks entry into the U.S. for people and refugees hailing from seven Muslim majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.
The protest was organized by the Muslim Students Association, with support from CMU Action, CMU Black Lives Matter and other students and faculty members of diverse backgrounds. The march moved students from the UC around campus, stopping for speeches at 1 p.m. in the Anspach-Pearce halls courtyard.
Ann Arbor senior and MSA president Hesham Tanbour used his speech to address the ban and University President George Ross’ statement. Hesham said Ross needs to take a firmer stance in opposition against the ban.
“May the press be a witness to this,” Tanbour said. “As Muslims and Americans attending Central Michigan University, we would like to say to you, join us. Join us in a clear and defiant stance against the ban on Muslim countries. We, the students of Central Michigan University and members of the Muslim Student Association on campus, urge President Ross to take the initiative to put CMU at the forefront of this movement by declaring Central Michigan University as a sanctuary campus.”
Tanbour said Ross should take three distinct actions. He said CMU should enact policies that:
- Forbid federal officials from coming to campus, without a warrant, to investigate the residency status of students.
- The university should promise not to release immigration or residency information of students.
- The university should instruct CMU police to also remain silent in regards to student immigration status.
Tanbour also advised students and staff in the crowd during the protest to “not be silent” during this time of conflict.
With picket signs and chants, the marchers cheered during Tanbour’s musings about faith and what it means to be an American. Protestors’ signs read: “Muslims you are welcome here,” and, “No more ignorance, America was built by immigrants.”
Midland freshman and MSA event coordinator Maham Khan also spoke at the protest, highlighting the need for understanding as opposed to aggression against Muslims seeking refuge in the U.S.
“Our world is changing and what we are seeing now is hatred developing because of regional or religious boundaries,” Khan said. “Refugees are good people and represent our already great America and what it stands for. They are escaping war, struggle and conflict and want to come to a life of stability and peace.
“It is our responsibility to help these people fleeing unimaginable hardships (and) to help the men and women escaping the bloodshed.”
She emphasized that people cannot let the ignorance of those in power define how America should be, or what it should look like.
“What they are describing is not my America, that cannot be our America.” Khan said. ”We are asking for the dignity and respect that these people deserve — an injustice against one is an injustice against all of us.”
While students of the Islamic faith attended, non-Muslim students made up a majority of the crowd. Their chants could be heard echoing through campus.
“I’m here because I’m angry that the Trump administration is trying to get away from calling this a Muslim ban, even though that is exactly what it is,” said Saginaw junior Rachel Norman. “Immigrants and refugees — we should help them. That is what America was built on, immigration and people (coming) from different countries.”
Other universities, like the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, released statements denouncing the executive order. Both U-M and MSU’s presidents stated they will not release the immigration status of students.
Tanbour said he thinks CMU is behind, noting that Ross’s statement yesterday was “mild” and “timid” and the community needs a clearer stance.
“We need certain rules, and there is a standard out there that universities are already accustomed to and using,” Tanbour said. “So, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel — you just have to do the right thing, take the right precautions and just make sure that this movement goes forward.”
Holly junior Alanah Rau said the protest should help make clear that we are all immigrants and need to stop the Trump administration’s hate and discrimination.
”I want equality for everybody,” Rau said. “If I stand for life, then I stand for all of these people’s lives to be fair and equal. They should not be held away from their families.”