President Donald Trump recently signed orders on closing the nation to refugees and people from certain predominantly Muslim countries. The decision was not welcomed by many and incited protests across the country as soon as the orders were rolled out.
While announcing the temporary ban, the president invoked the 9/11 attacks and said the measure was about national security.
However, a group of those whose loved ones were killed in the horrific attacks have criticized the president’s defense of the ban. They said they do not want the deaths of the victims to be used to justify harming refugees in the so-called Muslim ban. The families are urging Americans not to succumb to anger, hate and fear.
Terry McGovern, who lost her mother in the terror attacks, said she was “sickened” by Trump’s reference to 9/11. She further said that Trump was using her mother’s death to justify hatred.
“Don't use our loved ones, specifically my mother, to turn away refugees. This is not about protecting Americans; this is about bigotry ... I, for one, am really tired of the exploitation of 9/11 for agendas that have nothing to do with our loved ones,” she said.
Andrew Rice, whose brother, David Rice, died in the South Tower, said “I haven't talked on a 9/11 issue in many years.” He said he was moved to share his great concerns about the executive order on immigration.
Trump's order halted travel by people with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and stopped resettlement of refugees for 120 days. The White House has described the order as necessary to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.
Talat Hamdani, who lost her 23-year-old son in the terror attacks, also denounced the ban.
“This is categorically and definitely a Muslim ban. This is how deeply it's impacting our communities: People are not going to bury their parents back home. This is a racist, unconscionable agenda they have. It is a white supremacist agenda,” she said.
“We need to put a stop to this as soon as possible otherwise our country will pay a deep, deep price,” added Hamdani.
Barry Amundson, whose brother, Craig, was killed in the Pentagon attack, called Trump's actions cowardly. "This ban has more to do with the campaign promises and the Islamophobia than protecting the U.S.," he said.
John Sigmund’s sister Johanna was 25 when she was killed in the North Tower.
“The election really triggered a lot of emotions from 15 years ago. Because of this Muslim ban, I've finally awoken, I've left 'denial' and I'm in full anger,” he said.
"I really believe that America, in the same way, has to open our doors. Donald Trump, for all the money he has, for all the property he has, he doesn't have a loving or empathetic heart," he added.
The family members who spoke out are members or associated with the group, September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which was formed in 2002 with the mission of advocating for nonviolent responses to terrorism.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Rashid Umar Abbasi