By Seth Daniel
Many of the Muslims who immigrated to the United States and live or worship at the Everett Mosque reported this week that they are disheartened by the travel bans issued by President Donald Trump for seven Muslim-majority countries – and noted that they were reminded by the move of the actions they had tried to escape in their home countries.
Ahmed Rashed of the American Muslim Center in Everett, known as the Everett Mosque – which just recently moved from Everett Square to the Parkway, said that no members he was aware of had been caught up in the ban on travel from seven identified countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). However, he said that many are on edge and filled with uncertainty.
“My wife and I are citizens and we are from Egypt, which is not on the list,” he said. “However, we have heard that Egypt and Saudi Arabia might be included on a second list. We don’t know. My wife’s father has a Green Card and he was planning on coming to Boston for Ramadan in June and that’s all up in the air and uncertain now. The atmosphere of fear and uncertainty is real in our community.”
He said that while he is a citizen, as are many other in the mosque – which has a majority of its attendees originally from Morocco, there is a feeling that even citizenship might not be safe.
“Even if you are a citizen, but weren’t born here – as many of us weren’t, I’ve heard that there could be some sort of restrictions on that in the future,” he said. “It’s unconstitutional, but the balance of power hasn’t been tested in many decades so it might take time for one branch to catch up to another.”
The greatest feeling, he said, is one of disappointment. Many of those at the Everett Mosque fled from Syria either in recent years or more than 20 years ago. A vast majority of those who attend have fled from dictators and from kings who enacted harsh measures on the public with little oversight.
Coming to America, he said, meant that there was a balance of power.
After last weekend’s travel bans, they’re wondering where that oversight is.
“It’s been amazing to those who have grown up in this country and those who came to this country that there seems to be no balance of power,” he said. “There has to be some consultation of people in different branches of government before something like this. For those who do remember being in the old country, it reminds them of a king or dictator. We came here to get away from that. You’re talking about Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and those people from those countries came here to get away from kings and dictatorships. It brings all the old memories back.”
From a practical standpoint, he said it has severely changed the typical travel plans for those who attend the Everett Mosque. The typical activity each year for those traveling to Middle Eastern countries is to book the trips in the winter to save money. Right now, he said, most people are completing their summer travel plans.
That isn’t the case after last weekend.
“Right now, people don’t know what to do about that,” he said.