As a proud British-Iranian, this cowardly travel ban is personal

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Shireen Mardani in Iran.

Like most (I hope) I am disgusted and completely shocked by President Trump’s recent decision to induce a ‘temporary travel ban’.

As a proud British-Iranian myself, who holds both a British passport and an Iranian passport, the ban is personal, and I find it extremely difficult to accept any argument which stands for such an uneducated decision.

Whilst Trump may claim this is an attempt to keep the American population ‘safe’, there is still much confusion as to why the seven Muslim-majority banned countries were selected.

Given that the terrorists involved in the worst attack on the USA came from none of those countries, of course people are outraged. From an Iranian’s perspective, there is no denying the hostilities between Iran and America.

However, the nuclear agreement softened relationships and Iranians were hopeful for change. In the space of a week, Trump has managed to almost destroy the efforts made, risking going back to the way they were before.

The most upsetting part of the ban is that it affects ordinary people – not terrorists.

Airports brought to a standstill after Trump announces ban. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon

Consider the Iranian man who cried for his deported brother. The Syrian father who cannot see his refugee wife and son, an American citizen. The Iraqi man struggling to make a new start for his family.

Such an unjust decision has brought heartbreak and pain to many people – their stories, thankfully, are the ones dominating the media currently.

The only comfort I take from this ban, however, is society’s reaction, and responses to the events. Protests erupting in major cities across the world have been inspiring.

As a dual citizen, the guidelines on how the ban will affect those with two passports living in Britain has been unclear and quite frankly confusing.

On one side we have Boris Johnston claiming Britons have “special exemption” from the order, and on the other we have Washington diplomats contradicting this claim.

I was born in Scotland, and have lived in Scotland all my life. I grew up here, I went to school here, and I will soon graduate from university here.

I class myself as British, and to be told otherwise – for owning an Iranian passport – is discriminating.

Many have said to me these past few days, “you didn’t plan on going there anyway” – whether I intended to travel to America or not is irrelevant.

The fact of the matter is that the ban is an act of bullying and a cruel punishment against Muslims. It is cowardly. It is immoral.

by Shireen Mardani

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