SWANA Alliance Statement on the Muslim Ban

We speak for ourselves. As communities directly affected by white racist and Western colonial violence, SWANA Alliance stands against any Ban on entry to the United States by people from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Iran.

The Executive Orders proposed by Donald Trump titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” rely on racist portrayals of our communities as a threat just because of where we were born, what religion we practice or what we look like. We must reckon with this history: Western civilizations have been born out of genocide and continue through violence against Black and Brown communities today. Trump’s actions come from the elite’s “War on Terror” and “National Security” lies to push American interests in the SWANA region: to criminalize, dehumanize, pit against each other and murder communities to maintain its Empire. Trump’s actions could not have been possible without Bush’s original NSEERS program and Obama’s continued assault on Black and Brown communities. We are proud of who we are and we will not prove our right to exist to anyone.

We are South West Asian and North African (SWANA). We refuse to view ourselves in relation to the West, in Eurocentric terminology or state of mind. No one will speak for us. Like all communities we are diverse in ethnicity, religious identity, nationality, gender, and sexuality. We know that the State tries to divide and conquer us. It looks to provoke inter-community hatred among us so that we are weaker. But we will unite. We will define ourselves for ourselves. We will tear down the walls of oppression and the hatred amongst our communities. We will build our freedoms together. We will tear down power of the elite to take power for the people.

We know attempts to call this a “travel” ban trivialize this executive action as something affecting people just looking to “travel,” and absolves the United States of responsibility for the horrific violence and destabilization it has created in the region. While the United States condemns the governments of our region, it refuses to condemn the actions of the regime which it just elected. We know attempts to call this a “refugee” ban serve to make Americans believe our communities are only escaping internal conflict and civil war, without naming the superpowers that create refugees, both Western governments and regimes within the region, and how they work together. We know the attempts to call this a “Muslim” ban rely on the white supremacist ideas of our region as Arab = Middle Eastern = Muslim that conflate our communities to create a fake Enemy or Other for America to manufacture fear of within its people. The ban specifically targets Muslim bodies through racialization, we know this is a racist process. However, current narrative erases violence against Black SWANA people and religious minorities in the region facing multiple oppressions. We stand with all those affected by colonial and racist violence.

We will not be silent. We are united to uplift all communities of color in the US, to struggle against anti-blackness around the world and to center SWANA women and queer SWANA people.

We are the people. All power to our peoples. The people want fall of the Trump regime.

Sophia Armen