#RightToTravel: A Call To Action For Travelers Against The Muslim Ban

BY TEAM JST

There was nothing more horrifying than hearing of hundreds of travelers being detained in airports across the U.S. this weekend, for simply being from a designated country or identifying with a certain religion. This was a direct consequence of Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban” signed Friday afternoon on January 27th. This executive order banned refugees, immigrants, nationals and legal residents from Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iran and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. Furthermore, ALL refugees are banned from entering the country for 120 days.

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As a direct backlash to Trump’s executive order, Iran has already banned Americans from traveling there. It described the ban as an “affront against the Muslim world” and Americans will be prohibited from traveling to Iran “until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted.”

It’s in times like these that travelers realize how travel and free movement are intricately tied to politics. To wanderers who wish to see as much of the world as possible, there’s nothing more horrifying than travel restrictions imposed by forces that we cannot control.

As avid travelers, we believe global movement is a right that should be granted to everyone regardless of ethnicity, religion or nationality. As human beings on this planet, every person deserves to see all the sights, destinations and people that our world has to offer.

But this is has hardly been the case, even before this unconstitutional executive order was put into place.

Not all passports are created equal and not all travelers get to visit the majority of foreign countries whenever they wish. The top 15 most powerful passports in the world – ranked by how many foreign countries citizens can travel to without a visa – are dominated by Western countries. Citizens from countries with weak passports must go through numerous obstacles just to visit a Western country, from having a sponsor write a letter to proving that they have a certain amount of money in their bank account. Individuals who have any semblance of being Muslim are regularly profiled and interrogated in airports. Those who’ve visited Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq, for any reason, have been subjected to intense interview processes whenever they wish to travel. It’s not fair that someone who visited their grandmother in Iran isn’t allowed back into their home country versus someone who visited their grandmother in France.

It’s not hard to see why the majority of travel bloggers and influencers are of Western nationality. Being “well-traveled” and traversing the globe is still a privilege that’s heavily influenced by race, wealth and nationality.

But this doesn’t mean that’s the way things should be. Everyone deserves to see the Coliseum, the Pyramids of Gaza or the Statue of Liberty, if they’re willing to travel the distance.

Anyone who has traveled to a Muslim country knows how beautiful, humble and kind Islamic cultures are. As people who’ve had the privilege of personally interacting with individuals from foreign countries, we have a responsibility to diffuse xenophobia and discrimination in our home countries. Those of us who are writers, bloggers and influencers, have an even bigger responsibility to diffuse hate by sharing stories through our platforms.

Regardless of our individual nationalities, we must confront the fact that an entire population of people are being discriminated against for their nationality and religion. And we must do everything we can to stop this hatred from further violating human rights.

As global travelers and citizens, we are against Islamophobia. We are against discrimination and unlawful detainment in airports. And we are against any bans and walls that restrict the movement of fellow travelers.

What do you think of President Trump’s travel ban? Share with us in the comments.

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