Malaysian student groups and youth wings of opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (Coalition of Hope) protested against American President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration at the American embassy in Kuala Lumpur this Friday evening.
The assembly at the Malaysian capital was organised by Pakatan Harapan and Bersatu (United Indigenous Party of Malaysia) and saw about 200 participants turn up, mostly Muslim locals, to hand over a memorandum to the American Ambassador-Designate, Her Excellency Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir.
Msians shud protest #MuslimBan bcoz its against religious freedom &human rights. Let's demonstrate infront of KL US Emb this Friday.
— Saifuddin Abdullah (@saifuddinabd) January 29, 2017
After Friday prayers, the congregation marched down Jalan Tun Razak, a major expressway in the nation’s capital, and took base opposite the American embassy, where representatives from student groups and political parties gave speeches and held placards.
Calling the ban a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention, the coalition stated that the executive order banning the admission of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries was “a form of blanket discrimination that is mean-spirited, divisive, inhumane, and a breach of human rights”.
“It is a hugely disturbing action that points to further steps that may be taken by President Trump including making it harder for citizens from predominantly Muslim countries such as Malaysia to travel, study and work in the United States,” it added.
Discrimination will lead to more hatred, radicalisation
The National Union of Muslim Students and the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (ABIM) held posters stating #NoMuslimBan, #NoBanNoWall and #StandWithRefugees.
They chanted “No Ban, No Wall”; “Bantah Trump” (Reject Trump); and “Tolak Kezaliman” (Reject Cruelty).
The National Union of Muslim Students laid out three reasons why the union was participating in today’s demonstration.
“First, the executive order discriminates people based on race and nationality. Second, it is against basic human rights, equality and justice. The third is because our brothers and sisters in the same religion of Islam, that we really think wherever they are in the world, they are free to roam without any sort of ban or order that would discriminate our brothers and sisters,” said the 23-year-old law undergraduate at the Malaysian MARA Institute of Technology (UiTM)
Standing in solidarity with the global community in condemning the recent bans, Mohamad Raimy Ab. Rahim of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement said: “This is a blatant breach of human rights, which states one cannot be solely discriminated against on the basis of religion.”
“We call for international action and especially Malaysia to be well-aware of this issue … Trump’s foreign policy, after all, is heading towards a chaotic world order and I believe this is our cause of concern,” he added.
Mohamad Raimy cautioned that if their message is not heeded by Washington, this will lead to more hatred and future radicalisation.
Another student group present was Malaysian Progressives, a group of Malaysian students studying at various universities in Australia. Although on their summer break, they were there to stand against xenophobia. “If we are not here, we are definitely going to protest in Australia as well, against this Muslim ban,” said Aisha Adam.
“We are here to fight for justice for all… this could set precedent for any other racist kinds of policies that Trump might be wanting to do in the future,” warned the 30-year-old postgraduate student of Melbourne University.
“So we have to stand up for social justice, that’s why we are here.”