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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 25 January 2022

'A country that invaded and destroyed my dad's home is now telling people like him they are not welcome'

Trump’s 90-day ban affects travel to the US by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. We asked a selection of those affected, now living here in Ireland, how it will impact their lives.

Caitriona O'Neill and William Gallagher

Bahman Nasseroleslami is an Iranian researcher, working in Trinity

I was born in Tehran and studied there until 2008. Between 2008 and 2011 I did my PhD in Glasgow. I then moved to the US and worked as a postdoctoral research associate. Currently, I’m a postdoctoral research fellow in Trinity, where my research is focused on using non-invasive brain recordings (EEG or brain waves) to understand how motor neurone disease affects humans’ nervous systems.

This travel ban will affect scientific research, not only for me but for many people in academia. As researchers we need to travel internationally quite frequently (about two times a year) to attend conferences and workshops. The US plays a central role in science and many key conferences and scientific events are held there.

The immediate case is the American Academy of Neurology conference this April in Boston, where my colleagues and I will be presenting our recent research results. Because of the ban, my participation is out of question and someone else from our group needs to attend and present instead of me.

We were lucky that no travel arrangements had been made to date but I know numerous people with disrupted travel plans. Maybe I am one of the least affected people from the banned individuals, but it still disrupts our potential future scientific research and our potential international collaborations.

The ban is not justifiable. Wars are not justifiable. Discrimination based on nationality is not justifiable. And I don’t really see how the ban will reduce terrorism; it might actually make the situation worse.

Rafika Rajab is half Irish, half Yemeni and lives in Dublin

I was born in Sana’a the capital of Yemen, a city and country I adore. My mom, the daughter of a Fianna Fáil TD from Kilkenny, was one of the very few Westerners when she went to live there in 1964, just after the revolution.

I personally won’t be affected by the ban as I have no interest in visiting the US. My love for America disappeared with the second Gulf War. However, I have cousins and friends who are deeply affected. Many of them may not be able to travel to visit family or work there now.

Yemenis in general have had it hard from all sides, with the war being ignored and crippling the country. Thousands are dying of starvation. People can’t get out, and others who are in the US and sending money home are worried about being deported. I can’t see or understand how this ban is making America safer, as it is demoralising and causing lots of hatred and anger.

We were worried about Trump’s presidency, and our fears are now justified. American policies are alienating more and more people. Look at Palestine and now the whole of the Arab world.

Razan Ibraheem is a Syrian journalist, living in Ireland for the past six years

I’m not directly affected by the ban as I don’t have to travel to US ever, and I don’t have family there. But while I’m not worried about myself, I do care about the bigger and wider effects of this decision.

Every country has the right to secure its borders and check the background of any newcomers, but this should be done without violating human rights and without discrimination. Let’s also not forget the obligation of helping people from war zones and applying the Geneva Convention.

It is shameful that the countries singled out are the countries that were directly and indirectly destroyed by US. Take, for example, Iraq. It was invaded by the US in 2003. Cities were completely destroyed and more than 100,000 children were killed.

IS grew out of the destruction and power vacuum left behind. Not only that, but Iraqis are fighting side by side with the American army against IS in Mosul.

It’s important to note that it was already very difficult to get a US visa for Syrians and Iraqis. The process could take up to two years. I don’t know what more the US require. And no citizens from these countries have carried out any terror attacks in the US.

Why isn’t Saudi Arabia included in the ban? Is it excluded because of the oil and arms trade?

Riyadh Khalaf is a documentary filmmaker based in London

I’m half Irish and half Iraqi. The Iraqi side is from my father. I was born in Dublin but have never visited my father’s birthplace.

Initially I was worried about how this ban might affect me, having a parent from one of the seven banned nations. But I realised that I would be exempt since I don’t have an Iraqi passport or citizenship. Whenever I travel to the States I always feel a little cautious though because my name is of Middle Eastern origin, but I haven’t had problems so far.

My dad is an Irish citizen now, but having been born and raised in Iraq, I would worry about his treatment by customs on the US side. It has put a sour taste in my family’s mouths to say the least. A country that invaded and in many ways destroyed his home is now telling people like him that they are not welcome. Rich isn’t it.

I was initially miffed and amused by the fact that Trump got into office. It was out of my hands so I thought that I might as well grab the popcorn and sit back while the Americans who voted for him realise the error of their actions. But it’s gone too far now. This is not a game and we are all affected.

I have signed a petition to let Enda Kenny know that I don’t support a US state visit and that handing over of a bowl of shamrocks is not in my name. We cannot and should not play “friends” with a person of such vile hatred and beliefs. Ireland has a long history of neutrality, hospitality and love for all. We cannot tarnish this because a dangerous man with power wants to feel liked.

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Caitriona O'Neill and William Gallagher

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