Congressman Darren Soto was in Kissimmee on Thursday night, to host a town hall with members of the Muslim community to address concerns over Islamophobia and the recent travel bans being promoted by President Donald Trump involving mostly Muslim countries.
The program included Muslim leaders from all areas of the community, whose main concerns were how the controversial travel ban effected not only Muslims from the Middle East but those here in the United States of different ethnicities, who have been American Citizens for most, if not all of their lives.
“This kind of rhetoric and hate is what resonates and gives people the green light for bigotry.” said Rasha Mubarak, Regional Director of CAIR Florida, who believed the Trump administration was wrong for tying the ban to national security “Islamophobia is not just about Muslims but the racism that has existed in this country for a very long time.”
One of the attendees who spoke during the public comment period personally experienced the complications behind the ban, including questions about his faith when reentering the country.
“Why do you want to know my faith? I’m an American citizen.” he said recalling questions from customs agents “I love this country. This is not the America I know.
There was also a focus on the talent the country could lose because of the travel ban including experts in medicine, science, and engineering.
Not all of the speakers on the program were completely opposed to White House policies. Dr. Zaid Fadhli voiced approval of Trump’s decision to retaliate with a military strike following the Syrian chemical weapons attack last week and believed eliminating Dictator Bashar al-Assad was an important step to eliminating ISIS. Zaid would ask Soto to work across the aisle on the matter.
Soto himself recently returned from a trip to Iraq, where he got to witness the battle against terrorism first hand.
“What I saw was Americans working with Muslims and soldiers of every faith working hand in hand to fight ISIS and liberate Iraq. I saw our United States committed to helping with airstrikes and medivacs.”
The travel ban is not currently in effect after being blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii, but both sides are prepared to continue fighting the battle in the courts.
Imam Abdul Patel shared the podium with Soto to end the formal program with a positive message calling for unity among all Floridians and Americans.
“As citizens, we are all in one family.” Patel said “We have to protect each other. Love each other. Support each other and engage our self in this community.”