It was the first discriminatory policy that the Trump administration implemented impacting thousands of people around the world, separating American families and harming vulnerable populations. There were many cases of green-card holders being detained despite the fact that they had been living in the United States for years and obtained their greens cards through legal immigration processes. The intention of this ban was clear in that it sought to exclude American Muslim communities from the fabric of this nation.
Despite intense opposition and criticism, the Trump administration further pushed for countless other policies that had the same discriminatory goal as the Muslim bans and targeted Muslim communities. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court allowed the third iteration of the Muslim ban to go into full effect on June 26, 2018.
More than two years later, nearing the end of Trump’s presidency, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over 80 million confirmed cases and 1.7 million deaths globally, with over 19 million cases and 333,000 deaths in the US alone. Jobs were lost, entrepreneurs and small businesses struggled to stay afloat, economic inequality deepened, education switched to online learning, people isolated themselves, travel was restricted and more. Now, the light at the end of the tunnel, which has proved to be the vaccine, is finally here. The credit for developing it goes to a Muslim couple, scientists Ugur Sahin, a Turkish immigrant to Germany, and Ozlem Tureci, the daughter of a Turkish physician, who also migrated to Germany from Istanbul. The two scientists founded the BioNTech company, which teamed up with Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that was found to be more than 90 percent effective and is now being distributed in the US and elsewhere along with another from Moderna.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui is another Muslim immigrant, born in Morocco, with extensive experience in vaccine and medicines development. He is currently leading Operation Warp Speed as its chief science adviser. He is a vital figure in the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution program process.
Ironically, Trump’s presidency started with a Muslim ban, was plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic and ended with Muslims developing the vaccine that could save the future of our nation and our world. The very Muslims that Trump didn’t want in his country changed it for the better.
Seeing the developers of the vaccine in the mainstream media, I, as a Muslim, feel at ease not hearing negative stereotypes about my religion perpetuated. But I’m disappointed to not hear my religion associated with positive news. The double standard is as clear as day — when the media reports about a terrorist attack, it makes sure to mention the Islamic faith and ask prominent Muslims to condemn such acts, on behalf of all Muslims. But when Muslims are positively impacting our world, their religion and identity are not associated with their actions. Just as Trump’s presidency reflects the irony of its treatment of Muslims and the discrimination that followed, so too do daily actions of the mainstream American narrative regarding Muslims.
By Lallia Allali (Allali is a leadership coach and chair of the San Diego Unified School District English Learner Advisory Committee. She lives in Clairemont.)
Source: The San Diego Union Tribune