More than two weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, students continue to protest his travel ban.
Approximately 50 students and community members rallied on East Mall Tuesday evening to show solidarity against the recent executive order and the Trump administration. The sponsors of the protest all had a common goal in the demonstration: to be proactive in the community, according to Omar Salim, president of Texas Muslims Students’ Association, which organized the demonstration.
“A lot of the time (we) wait until there’s an event or something specifically that happens to our group, then we come out and then we want to organize things in response to that,” Salim said. “One thing that I plead to the Muslim community as well as any of the minorities that are marginalized or are struggling: Go find these people who have voiced themselves … and really become friends with them. When you learn from their character and you learn from their leadership, you yourself can represent the minorities that are marginalized across the country.”
Members from different campus organizations spoke during the rally, with an open mic available for anyone to speak toward the end. Demonstrators said the Maghrib prayer, the fourth of the five daily prayers practiced by Muslims, after the open-mic period ended. Salim, an architecture senior, said the prayer enables people of the community to feel connected with one another.
“For the evening prayer, especially in Islam, there’s no stronger response to everything that’s going on other than prayer,” Salim said. “Some may say it’s a publicity stunt but it’s really not. At the end of the day, the whole goal of us praying together is to show how united we are.”
The executive order, also known as the travel ban, was signed Jan. 30, which bars refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering into the U.S. for three months. Mohamed-Umer Esmail, an imam at the Nueces Mosque, said that although the executive order is a disappointment, it gives people more opportunities to share their voices and be heard.
“It’s something we’re going to have to deal with for the next four years and we’re just going to have to speak out and be more active,” Esmail said. “Other incidents in the past were not enough to wake us up, but this is something that should wake us up. We have come to know that what we thought was impossible, is actually possible. We were taught that in a democracy, something like this would not happen.”
UT alumnus Sheridan Aguirre, who is a member of the University Leadership Initiative, spoke at the event and said the executive order is a “direct attack on immigrants,” and he hopes people will continue to show their support for those being impacted by the recent decisions.
“Muslim undocumented youth are currently under attack and are being hit from both sides,” Aguirre said. “I call on all of you to keep coming to these events, to keep showing your support for our Muslim community, to keep showing support for our immigrant community. We have a lot of power and I know that together we can fight back.”