People from around the Bay Area gathered at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California in downtown Oakland on Sunday to create art and signs protesting the Trump administration’s travel ban. “It’s a really discouraging time right now,” said Raeshma Razvi, director of IC3: Incubating Creativity, Community and Civic Engagement, which put on the event. “Events like this show that a lot of us are together. [It’s about] strengthening and amplifying Muslim-American voices.”
The most recent version of the travel ban, issued on September 24, places permanent restrictions on travel to the United States for citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea. This version of the ban, first announced in January, is set to take effect on October 18.
Sunday’s art-making event was held in conjunction with the Band Together Vigil held on October 9 in San Francisco, as well as No Muslim Ban Ever, a national campaign that is organizing a march in Washington D.C. on October 18.
The purpose of the event went beyond making signs and banners for the following day’s vigil. Sabiha Basrai, a member of Third World Resistance, an organization that connects the Black Lives Matter movement with worldwide issues, described the event as a way to strengthen community and “take joy in the process of resistance.”
“It’s nice to come out to safe, cozy and fun community events, to be with people who you share identity with,” said Josephine Shetty, a former Bay Area resident who was visiting for the weekend. Shetty was making bird-shaped signs with slogans expressing support for people affected by the travel ban.
A number of artists from around the Bay Area made contributions to the event. Keyvan Shovir, an Iranian artist based in San Francisco, contributed to a mural which contained Farsi poetry and emphasized the importance of unity. Shovir said he has avoided leaving the country since the travel ban was implemented, for fear that he won’t be allowed to return. “[I’m here] to be a voice for those people who have been influenced by this stupid law,” he said.
The travel ban has undergone a number of revisions since the original executive order was implemented in January. The initial ban prohibited entry for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries and banned entry for refugees for 120 days. The refugee ban is set to expire on October 24. In March, the Trump administration issued a second version of the travel ban. The Supreme Court was set to review the legality of the executive order on October 10, but that date has been pushed back since the latest travel ban was issued.
“It’s racist, it’s discriminatory,” Razvi said of the travel ban. “I’m against the ban, I’m against the wall and deporting Dreamers. It’s all part of the same cloth.” Dreamers are undocumented young people who would have qualified for a pathway to citizenship under the proposed DREAM Act.
The overall tone of the day was positive and forward-looking. “We’re really trying to uplift those voices of folks from impacted countries,” said Sacha Maniar, an organizer of the Band Together Vigil in San Francisco. “Whether it’s here, on the streets, or in the courts, [we want] to show this administration that we are against these policies.”