President Trump’s Travel Ban Is an Affront to Civilised Values

President Trump banning people from certain countries entering the US has robbed millions of people of their individuality. They are no longer separate human beings with their own thoughts, principles, likes, dislikes, fears and hopes. It is treating them all as an amorphous mass of humanity, not worthy of the right to be judged personally by their deeds and words.

Being an Iraqi-born British citizen, I thought the ban would apply to me, but according to our foreign secretary I and others like me are now exempt. Wow, how generous, and what an achievement by our government! So now I am expected to feel grateful to be given my basic human right to be judged as an individual.

Forgive me for stating the obvious but we are incapable of choosing where we were born. I can’t go back in time to instruct my parents to be elsewhere for my birth. In any case, they most likely would not be allowed to be in Europe or the US.

I thought that we had moved beyond assigning collective guilt, blame and negative characteristics on the basis of ethnicity, religion, or the colour of our skin. It fills me with foreboding and anxiety that maybe humanity is entering once again into the darker ages of the past where people were condemned without opening their mouths or doing anything bad.

Please, let us not characterise values that should be common to all decent human beings as being British, American, European or from any other nation. This immediately creates division with everybody else put in the category of the “other”.

They are rights that every human deserves to have regardless of his/her ethnicity, origin or race. Refugees flocking to Europe escaping tyranny and wars share these values. Of course there will be some who are criminals, bigoted, hateful or worse, but the vast majority want to be respected and valued as human beings; they believe they could have that in the west.

Collective punishment should be abhorrent to anyone with a shred of decency. My spirit is lifted to see people of different ethnicities, religions and colour demonstrate and sign petitions protesting the collectivisation of guilt inherent in these Trump executive orders. It has brought to the fore the other characteristics we humans have: tolerance, compassion, empathy, fairness and the burning desire to stand up to injustice and bigotry.

I am also heartened by Angela Merkel’s words:

The necessary and decisive fight against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain belief – in this case people of Muslim belief or people from a certain country…that way of thinking is against my interpretation of the basic tenants of international refugee support and cooperation.

We are empathetic beings and we must resist the temptation to block our empathy by the barriers of colour, religion, ethnicity or country of birth. Our humanity should trump (excuse the pun) such feelings. It is the stronger bond that binds us all to this fragile planet.

How could an individual or a country that constantly lectures the world on human rights take such crass and inhuman action?

Adnan Al-Daini (PhD, Birmingham University, UK) is a retired University Engineering lecturer. He is a British citizen born in Iraq. He writes regularly on issues of social justice and the Middle East. Read other articles by Adnan.