When a federal judge in Seattle on February 3rd blocked President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Trump took to his preferred mode of communication and tweeted, "We must keep 'evil' out of our country." Trump's travel ban barred anyone born in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Syria from entering the United States. Most entries were curbed for 90 days, refugees were barred for 120 days and, if they are from Syria, indefinitely.
Officials from the countries on Trump's no-entry list said that while the United States has the right and duty to protect its borders and people, the travel ban displayed ignorance of what the people of the seven countries and Syria are going through. Take Iraq, for instance. "There have been many thousands of suicide bombers who have come from all over the world to kill innocent Iraqis inside Iraq," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an interview with France 24 television. "Every country has the right to investigate, to look carefully into would-be immigrants, but to just place a blanket ban on a nation, I don’t agree with it."
"There are no data – none – which we have seen to reflect that Iraqis have engaged in international terrorism on US soil or elsewhere. On the contrary – we are the victims and we are being penalized for having this fight on behalf of the US and other countries... against Daesh."
Former Iraqi ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, questioned "how these countries were bundled together. What are the commonalities?"
"There are a lot of other countries that have exported terrorists and takfiri ideology and funds for terrorist organizations that are not on the list. I’m not going to defend the list or the countries on it, but as an Iraqi I’m offended by it and certainly take it as being labeled as a terrorist until proven otherwise. There are no data – none – which we have seen to reflect that Iraqis have engaged in international terrorism on US soil or elsewhere. On the contrary – we are the victims and we are being penalized for having this fight on behalf of the US and other countries... against Daesh. For me, it’s a betrayal, a sign of a lack of understanding of what Iraqis are going through and aspire to."
Ghazal Marko, Camp Petra, Greece
Ghazal saw me as I left a nearby tent in Camp Petra. She guided me over rocks and tent pegs to her 'home', and prepared sweet Iraqi chai on a makeshift charcoal stove. In the back of the UNHCR tents, her three young children fought playfully over who should get to play a game on a mobile phone. Her two other children are grown-up and stayed behind in Iraqi Kurdistan when Ghazal and the rest of the family fled as ISIS closed in on Shingal -- also called Sinjar -- in Iraq's Nineveh governorate.