British Muslims join condemnation of US executive order relating to seven countries in Middle East and Africa
The Queen made me a knight, Donald Trump made me an alien. Sir Mo Farah, one of Britains most successful Olympians, condemned Donald Trumps decision to ban arrivals in the US from a series of predominantly Muslim countries in simple terms. The double 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic champion, who was born in Somalia one of the seven countries named in the presidents executive order branded the decision ignorant and prejudiced.
He added that he would have to tell his children that he might not be able to come home to the US from his training camp in Ethiopia, where he was scheduled to stay for another two weeks before competing for the UK in Britain.
Farah spoke out after Trumps executive order halted the entire US refugee programme and imposed a 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The ban has caused a furore among leading British Muslims, who could be affected by the border clampdown. Sporting figures, politicians and artists have all united to condemn the ban.
Farah was speaking from Ethiopia, where he is training at high altitude in preparation for a race in Birmingham next month. He planned to go back to Ethiopia afterwards for four weeks before returning to the family home he shares with his wife and four children in Portland, Oregon, in March. The news of the executive order, however, led him to fear that he would not be able to travel back to Portland because of the ban, which applies to those who hold dual nationality with one of the listed countries.
In the riposte to Trump, Farah said: I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home. Now, me and many others like me are being told that we may not be welcome. Its deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home to explain why the president has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice.
I was welcomed into Britain from Somalia at eight years old and given the chance to succeed and realise my dreams. I have been proud to represent my country, win medals for the British people and receive the greatest honour of a knighthood. My story is an example of what can happen when you follow polices of compassion and understanding, not hate and isolation.
He also contrasted his treatment from the Queen, who recently gave him a knighthood, with that of Trump, saying: On 1 January this year, Her Majesty the Queen made me a knight of the realm. On 27 January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien.
Farah is a British citizen with a British passport who does not have dual nationality or hold a Somalian passport. However, he was born in Somalia.
The UK government last night released a statement after talks with the White House that sought to play down the impact of the ban. Detailing assurances secured by the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, the government said the measure applied only to British citizens with dual nationality travelling to the US directly from one of the seven targeted countries. The US has reaffirmed its strong commitment to the expeditious processing of all travellers from the UK.
On hearing the statement from No 10, Farah said he was relieved that he could return to his family, but still staunchly opposed to the policy, according to a spokeswoman for the athlete. She said: We understand from the statement released this evening by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office that the executive order will not apply to Mo, and we are grateful to the FCO for urgently clarifying the situation.
Mo is relieved that he will be able to return to his family once his current training camp concludes. However, as he said in his earlier statement, he still fundamentally disagrees with this incredibly divisive and discriminatory policy.
Alan Watkinson, the PE teacher who discovered Farah as a schoolboy, said he was not surprised by him speaking out against Trumps decision. Mo has strong values, he told the Guardian. If he thinks something isnt fair he wont sit on the fence. He is always been passionate about injustice and he has always had that side to him.
Watkinson, who was also the best man at Farahs wedding, urged Theresa May to intervene directly to make sure that Farah would be able to return to the US. Mo has lived in the US for many years, had children there, and pays his taxes there. And while Mo is the most high-profile case, the whole policy is complete crackers and hopefully his case will highlight how ridiculous this blanket ban against Muslims is.
The BritishIranian comedian Patrick Monahan had plans to take his tour to the United States this year, but now says his Iranian heritage could make that impossible.
Monahan, 40, came to Britain in the early 1980s to escape the Iran-Iraq war. His family lived on the border of the two Middle Eastern countries in the south-western city of Ahvaz in Iran. But when the conflict started, his parents were forced to flee with their three children, crossing into Saudi Arabia, Europe and then into the UK before settling in Teesside.
He said: This is taking us right back into the dark ages. I find it ridiculous that because of my heritage I am now considering public enemy number one in the states. America is made up of immigrants and to shut the doors to others is just ludicrous. I have never been to the states before but I was going this year and taking my show out there. It doesnt look like that can happen now.
Monahans father is an Irish national, who had travelled to the Middle East to work on oil rigs. He added: I am used to being asked questions at airports because they get very confused with my Irish passport and my Iranian birth. I always get asked if Ive been to Syria. But I get they have a job to do I have never been refused entry before though.
Comedy is a way of breaking barriers and banning us from entering a country is not going to help with culturally diversity or help people to understand what we are all about. Stopping people from meeting each other creates fear.
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