Photo courtesy of University of Akron Muslim Students’ Association
An executive order created a ban on people from the countries of Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Syria on January 28th. After much controversy, the executive order was put on hold and then revised. These revisions affect people from the aforementioned countries except for Iraq.
Nasser Razek, a faculty member at the University of Akron, as well as a member of the Muslim Students’ Association, spoke to us about the purpose of the Muslim Students’ Associaton, as well as how the travel ban is affecting Muslim students and students who come from the countries affected by the ban. Razek came to the United States from Egypt, but is acquainted with affected students through his position as a faculty member at the university, as well as a member of MSA.
According to Razek, the Muslim Students’ Association is a group that serves the needs of Muslim students on campus. Each Friday, they hold a weekly prayer, in addition to having meetings and inviting guest speakers throughout the semester.
Razek says that a lot of students come from Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Iran who study a variety of fields from engineering to business to education. Currently, these students cannot travel outside of the country. They are often told “don’t leave the country until you get your degree”.
While these restrictions are not supposed to affect current visa holders from these countries, this still poses an issue for many students. Razek explains that these students come to the United States with current visas, but when those visas expire, students file paperwork stating that they are still in the United States to finish their degrees and, thus, remain “in status”. Therefore, the current ban means that these students would have to get another visa if they are to return home.
Despite these issues, Razek says that the University of Akron has been a supportive community for these students and faculty members. He says, “The university is doing a good job in trying to keep up with the current students. However, there is not a lot the university can do if there is a ban on travel, on visas.”
Razek tells us that while there is much uncertainty about the current state of politics, he has hope for the future.
He says, “In Islam, we have a saying that when God wants to reinstate a virtue, he chooses someone to simply say bad things about the virtue, to attack the virtue, and then people would go back to that virtue and say ‘let’s think about this. Is this right or wrong? ‘…And then they would understand that this is a virtue, we should support that.”
While, the travel ban poses many fears and questions for students on campus, they still go about their daily lives, finding support in their student organizations, as well as community members at the University of Akron.