Alt-right supporters of President Trump pushed for a Muslim ban.
San Diego County pushed back.
Southwestern College students and staff were among the more than 2,000 protesters that rallied at Terminal 2 of the San Diego International Airport in support of Muslim immigrants affected by Trump’s Executive Order 13769, “The Muslim Ban.” Protests cropped up in hundreds of American cities, including major protests in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and Washington, D.C.
ASO President Mona Dibas and ASO Vice President of Public Relations Nada Dibas were vocal participants.
“These are my people,” said Mona Dibas, an American Muslim. “It’s my brothers, my sisters. My best friend is Syrian. One of our (ASO) senators is Somali. This applies to people at Southwestern College. This applies to my family, this applies to my friends, so I don’t see how I couldn’t be out here defending them.”
Nada Dibas agreed.
“Initially, I was very hurt, very angry and I wanted to do something about it,” she said.
Trump’s order, titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” called for an immediate halt of all refugees for the following 120 days and a 90-day suspension of the entrance of citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Provisions for refugee entrance were also changed.
“(T)he Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest – including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution,” read Section e of the executive order.
Nada Dibas said the executive order was causing chaos at airports and anxiety among law-abiding Americans.
“Before I came out to the protest, I was at my friend’s house,” she said. “She’s Syrian and while I was at her house that night she was expecting her grandparents and also another family friend. While at her house, I got word that her friend was detained at LAX and then we got really worried because her elderly grandparents were supposed to be coming in that same night and we didn’t know what was going to happen.”
San Diego airport protesters remained peaceful, said Nada Dibas, but moved inside the airport once it became known that two Iranian travelers had been detained for two hours.
Protesters chanted “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!” stopping only to sing Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me.”
“Each person is here for so many different reasons,” said Mona Dibas. “They are here for LGBTQ rights, they’re here for Muslim rights, for Black rights, for Latino rights. There are so many causes that people feel so strongly believe in and it’s uniting us under one roof, so I think that’s what’s different. It’s that feeling that of every person here has my back, every person is here to help me, to support me. If I was hurt, they would come to my rescue and so that feeling of, ‘I’m not alone.’”
Nada Dibas said the protest reinforced the power of people uniting for a cause.
“If people just knew, if the people just knew that if they work together, to defy this suppressive government, this fascist regime, then we could actually win,” she said.
Both ASO leaders said they want to bring the spirit of activism and unity to SWC.
“In the ASO we are all there to support each other and to support our students in any way we know how,” said Mona Dibas. “We try to come together the same way we are here today, from all different backgrounds, to fight for this cause.”