Muslim Student Association adviser speaks out against ban

Kennedy Nolen and Mallory Kutnick, Multicultural Reporter and Campus Reporter

Following President Donald Trump’s executive order Friday Jan. 27, the co-adviser of the Muslim Student Association at Eastern said his religion represents peace, not hatred.

Dr. Ahmed Abou-Zaid, co-adviser of the Muslim Student Association, said he thinks Trump’s executive order on Friday Jan. 27 halting immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries was not fair.

The executive order banned travel from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya, prompting protests nationwide. Masses of people took to the streets of college campuses and the halls of airports across the country. Lawyers offered free consultation to those detained at airports.

Abou-Zaid is originally from Egypt and has been living in the United States for 14 years. While Egypt is not one of the seven countries restricted, he expressed concern that eventually it would be added.

Abou-Zaid said out of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, only a few have acted in the wrong way. Trump seems to blame the whole faith.

“Do not blame the people of faith,” Abou-Zaid said. “The point of the religion is not to win wars. The point of the religion is to spread the beliefs, to spread peace.”

Abou-Zaid said Muslims greet one another with “salam,” the Arabic word for peace.

“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” Abou-Zaid says every day before he eats, before he goes to work, before he goes to bed at night.

He said he recites the beginning of the Treaty of Umar, a 1,400-year-old document penned upon the conquering of Jerusalem.

The Treaty of Umar lays out the rights and privileges of both the Muslims and the conquered people of Jerusalem.

“Their churches will not be inhabited by Muslims and will not be destroyed,” the letter reads. “Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their cross, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted.”

Unlike the treaty, Abou-Zaid said he considers Trump’s order one of hate.

“He’s splitting the families,” he said. “What kind of message are you sending to the Muslims overseas? What kind of message are you sending to ISIS? It’s a hatred message.”

Abou-Zaid said he was lucky to live in two open-minded college towns, including Carbondale, and was treated fairly, just as he and his family had been throughout the entire 14 years he had spent in America.

“The American people still surprise me with their good attitude and behavior,” Abou-Zaid said, reflecting on Christian neighbors who celebrated their differences. For 14 years, he enjoyed all rights afforded to American-born citizens, with the exception of the right to vote.

Abou-Zaid applied for a visa upon arrival and became an official American citizen last year.

“You have to accept democracy – pros and cons – but democracy does not mean that the person in office does whatever he wants,” Abou-Zaid said. “You have to stand up against what you feel is against the United States Constitution, the United States values.”

Abdul Wail, a senior political science major, is from Saudi Arabia, which is a predominantly Islamic nation. He said although people from his nation are not banned from the United States, he thinks all Muslims will get grouped together and shown in a negative light.

Wail said the executive order will likely lead to problems and acts of violence towards Muslims.

Blair Lord, provost and vice president for academic affairs Blair Lord said at the Faculty Senate Meeting Tuesday that one student was from the area affected by the executive order.

“I am saddened by this turn of events that threatens the rights of many, including some individuals in the EIU community,” Eastern President David Glassman wrote in a mass email sent to all students Monday.

Glassman wrote that the Office of International Students and Scholars had reached out to all 436 international students, which he said was a record number for Eastern.

“Please know that this action in no way reflects the views and values of Eastern Illinois University, and that we are greatly disheartened by this change in federal policy,” Glassman wrote.


Kennedy Nolen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]


Mallory Kutnick can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]