News & Politics

Syrian Artist Says He Won't Apply for a Visa Until Trump is Gone

Twitter screenshot of artwork from Syrian artist Khaled Akil, "Requiem for Syria."

To protest President Trump’s immigration ban, a Syrian artist has vowed not to apply for a visa to the United States until Trump is out of office.

Khaled Akil is known for his depictions of war in his home country, and his latest project is currently being shown at California’s Stanford University. Akil will not even apply for a U.S. visa until Trump’s term has ended, Al Jazeera reported.

“I understand they want to interview people and they have the right to know who is coming, but to give a racist order like this to prevent us is agonizing,” Akil told Al Jazeera.

Akil worries that the “racist” travel ban will become a “justification for people to hate Syrians.”

“With Trump, I will never apply for the visa, whether or not a ban is in place,” he said. “The politics worries me because it creates the tension that I saw in my own country which led to more violence. That’s why I can’t trust the system any more, I won’t feel safe there.”

So, Akil feels more safe in his country where people are being killed daily than in America where we have put a halt on all foreign nationals from seven dangerous regions until they can be better vetted? He calls it “racist” but no race is discriminated against in the order. Muslim isn’t a race, and these countries are home to many religions and ethnicities.

The reason for the ban is so Americans will be more secure, yet because this artist thinks the policy is discriminatory, he believes it will put him in danger. Just think about what he’s saying: Because Trump is putting a temporary travel ban from hostile regions that were identified by Barack Obama, Americans will suddenly start hating Syrians and threaten their safety.

Is there any proof of this? No. In fact, we have halted refugee admissions to America before. After 2001, refugee resettlement was suspended in the United States so security could be reevaluated and improved. Additionally, Obama suspended the Iraqi refugee program for six months in 2011. Ring a bell? Yet we didn’t have artists like Akil casting aspersions on Americans at that time, accusing them of being dangerous to Syrian refugees because of the ban.

It would also be a mistake to act like Trump and his supporters are the first Americans to oppose refugees coming to the United States. Have we always been a bunch of racists, or do Americans have legitimate safety concerns about people coming in from regions that are hostile to America’s way of life? Is it so unusual for a people to be cautious about who comes across their borders?

According to Pew, fifty-five percent of Americans in 1958 disapproved of a plan to let 65,000 refugees who escaped communist Hungary come to the United States. In 1979, a total of 62 percent didn’t want the number of refugees from Indochina double to 14,000 a month. In 1980, Cuban refugees wanted to come, and 71 percent of Americans didn’t want them here. An exception was in 1999, when hundreds of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo were brought to the United States. Sixty-six percent of Americans polled supported the plan to bring them here.

A current poll regarding Trump’s travel ban shows that Americans are generally in keeping with how they have traditionally been regarding refugees: 49 percent say they agree with Trump’s order, while 41 percent disagree.

Back in the summer, only 36 percent of U.S. voters supported accepting Syrian refugees. In November after the election, most Americans were still opposed to admitting Syrian refugees (54 percent against).

So, Americans refusing to get on board with refugees coming into the country is nothing new now that Trump is president. Why, then, would this order cause anyone coming here to be unsafe? What about Trump’s policy has suddenly turned Americans into violent bigots who would threaten a Syrian refugee?

Akil’s concern is unwarranted and merely part of the propaganda of the Left to delegitimize Trump and his administration. Sadly, comments like these about the American people will only create more divisions and make Americans even less open to welcoming people into our home.