If you live on the earth, have access to television news or god forbid the internet, you cannot escape the torrent of news coverage generated by Donald Trump’s ban against travelers and legal immigrants from countries explicitly because those nations have majority Muslim populations.
But per as usual what is lost in the fervor, and the media’s need to frame the narrative just so, is the disproportionate and arguably racist impact the ban has on Somalia and Sudan. These aren’t the faces and images you see, and the result is a dangerous, out of sight out of mind effect.
The narrative and image of the refugee most current in the minds of the American people are Syrian, because the Syrian conflict was a constant news topic in the last quarter of 2016. Images of dead children in building rubble or on quiet sandy beaches. Desperate last messages shared on social media videos at the height of the conflict just weeks ago.
The Syrian conflict showed us the desperation of those trying to escape with their lives. It also reminded the developed world what happens when millions of people are displaced and forced into camps. Across Europe we saw horrendous videos of desperate, unlivable conditions where men, women, the elderly and sick, and children all suffered as the international leadership bodies tried to decide how to absorb millions of people into new countries, including America.
As an American norm, we tend not to care about Africa, and our news outlets, local, national, and cable, routinely fail to maintain accurate, balanced, and unbiased coverage of the many nations that populate the continent.
So let’s start with Somalia. Here are the broad brush strokes. In 1991 civil war hit Somalia after the collapse of the government, which eventually led to Somalia being declared a failed state, which caused the utter collapse of the nation, it’s infrastructure and society. In this 26 year conflict, estimates are at near one million dead, another million displaced.
Of those, about 24 thousand Somali refugees have been waiting and working with the United Nations and related agencies to resettle in America. For most, it has been a decade long process of vetting and preparation. Some were in airports and on planes when the ban came down. The rest are in a refugee camp in Kenya, and the conditions are not desirable. It’s estimated 12 million people in Kenya and Somalia are starving to death. And we cannot forget, 60% of Somali refugees awaiting immigration are children.
Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban specifically makes room for safe passage of Christians to America, so long as their religion is the minority religion of their home country. Notice it doesn’t provide for safe passage for all minority faiths, such as traditional- just Christians.
Aside from traditional faith groups, which are in the minority, yes, Somalia is a Muslim country. Christians are the severe minority. It’s safe to say of the thousands and thousands of refugees already approved to immigrate to the United States, few qualify for immediate travel under Trump’s Executive Order because they aren’t Christian- more to the point, they are Muslim, and thus, condemned.
Sudan is also a majority Muslim country with a complex history many just get it wrong. Again, I will stick to the broad strokes to frame the current issue as it relates to the Trump Regime’s Muslim Ban, and because we are in a state of crisis, we don’t have article space to reflect on the beauty and divinity of regions like Sudan and Somalia, and their profound contributions to civilization as a part of the cradle of all life.
No, we have to zero in on all the negative stuff- but these things matter, because as we have seen with others who have been immediately impacted by the Muslim Ban, the point is, nowhere is this threat to life greater, than it is to African refugees and immigrants.
Internationally, Sudan has a reputation as a radical terrorist state. Whatever the political criteria for this label, the fact remains the people of Sudan are not all, unilaterally, radical terrorists who run around killing people in the name of religion. What is more accurate of a picture is the hijacking of Sudan as a country, by radical militant and terrorist groups as a result of decades of famine, poverty and civil war. At minimum 2 million have died as a direct result of the conditions of the government and the nation, not because they were suicide bombers. Matching that, at least 2 million more have been displaced. That means 2 million refugees and immigrants who need asylum, relocation assistance, and residency. Of those 2 million, those facing the greatest risk of death, violence, torture, exploitation and religious persecution are women and girls.
Sudan has some of the highest documented cases of female genital mutilation, rape and child rape, female slavery, torture, and femicide by means of cruelty and torture. Overwhelmingly these are black African Muslim women persecuted by a Muslim nation. It must also be pointed out that women and men rumored, thought or “confirmed” to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, trans or intersex, whether Muslim and Christian alike, face the death penalty if outed or even suspected.
Less than 50 thousand Sudanese immigrate to the United States every year. Totaled with the current immigrant population in the United States of people from the countries currently banned is less than 2% of the current, legally defined immigrant population in this country.
The Trump regime also used the Executive order to Ban Muslims to cap the number of immigrants with refugee status at 50 thousand. One could assume preference, regardless of circumstance, will not be given to people fleeing political persecution or a war torn homeland if they are Muslim or from a Muslim majority country.
Supporters of the Muslim Ban, electeds and voters alike, tend to nod approvingly whilst casting a suspicious eye on those countries, particularly in the middle east, listed in the Executive Order; they have been conditioned for generations to do so; Iran is untrustworthy, Iraq is 9/11, Libya is violent and corrupt, and Syria has some untoward dealings with Russia. Why not toss in Sudan and Somalia? Seems legit.
Trump’s Executive Order to ban Muslims is more than xenophobia cloaked in the urgency of national security. It is a political statement that the lives of Muslims, and in this case Black African Muslims from Somalia and Sudan do not matter. In the eyes and actions of the Trump Regime, the people of Somalia and Sudan are not worthy of a pulse, let alone refuge and liberty.