No, Donald Trump Didn’t Sign A Visa Free Travel Order To Arab Countries

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A “news” article by a website called “USA radio” is currently making the rounds that Donald Trump signed an executive order that allows visa-free travel to Arab countries, including Lebanon, excluding the 6 Arab countries of the 7 he had tried to ban two weeks ago. It was written at the same time Trump signed his travel ban order, but only started making the Arab rounds recently.

The article is being shared left and right. To summarize, the news is fake. False. Not correct. You still need visas to go to the U.S. and no American president, for the foreseeable future, regardless of who they are, will sign an order that allows visa free travel to Arab countries. I mean, where do we think we are, la la land?

For starters, the website in question has shared two similar articles worded in almost exactly the same way about Caribbean countries as well as Ghana. Both articles have since been removed. Another article remains about the U.S. establishing visa free travel with “Asia” and that is also fake news.

Usa-radio.com is a website full of fake news, of which this is a bunch:

I know the idea of being added to the list of countries who don’t have to knock embassy doors for visas is tantalizing, but this is still not happening anytime soon, and the Lebanese passport, as well as most Arab countries’ passports, are still among the worst-ranked passports of the world.

Moreover, Donald Trump whose policies are progressively aiming at isolating his country from the rest of the world will surely not sign an order to allow visa free travel from countries whose predominant religion he wants to ban. Let’s have some common sense, people. Also, just check out the actual, official, governmental Visa Waiver Program website (click).

 

If it’s too good to be true, it most likely isn’t, especially when the president whose order you want to be true is building a multi-billion wall to keep his Southern neighbors out. If you want to go to the United States, your only way is to pay that visa fee and go to your local embassy and be interviewed.

As a rule of thumb, when you see an article at which your first thought is “is this true?” from websites you’ve previously not heard of, make sure you use the powers of google to search for reliable sources that you are familiar with that corroborate the information put forth in that article.

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Elie Marouni Wants To Build Wall With Syria, Deport Refugees & Says Hillary Is Inept As She Can’t Please Her Husband

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Remember Elie Marouni? The Kataeb MP who, only a few months ago, said women should be blamed for when they got raped? Well, he’s back to his old horrifying ways.

In an interview with Joe Maalouf’s Hawa el Horriyeh, many Lebanese politicians were trying to draw similarities between our herd of politicians and American president Donald Trump. While many tried to distance themselves from the comparison and when asked what they’d do if they were Trump tried to have a more humane and decent approach, Elie Marouni went the exact opposite way.

He boasted that he was a lot like Trump, because he was sick of all the disgust we’re surrounded with. He did not specify what was disgusting exactly given he’s rotting away in parliament since 2009, postponing elections left and right and contributing to the horrific political stagnation we are part of. But, yes please tell me more about your “araf.”

It doesn’t stop there. When other Lebanese politicians criticized Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico as inhumane, Elie Marouni boasted that if he were the Lebanese Trump, he would build a wall on our border with Syria and get all the refugees out and back to their country. He would also make his wife his personal advisor because “you can’t leave her alone.”

His magnum opus doesn’t stop there. Because Elie Marouni is so funny, he figured the best way to bring down Hillary Clinton, also known as the first woman to ever be the nominee of a major American party for president and the person who got the second highest number of votes in history after Barack Obama, was to address her husband cheating on her: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, then how can she satisfy America?”

Simply revolting. The horrifying part is that there will be many Lebanese who not only agree with Elie Marouni but would also chuckle or applaud his remarks, especially that “joke” about Clinton not satisfying her husband because what are we but a patriarchal society that laughs at the expense of women, especially when they are the butt of the joke of their husband’s indecencies, summarizing them by their husband and not through their own accomplishments?

You see, whether you like her or not, Hillary Clinton is one hundred million times the person that Elie Marouni will ever be, and that’s before we even go into her list of accomplishments that he wouldn’t even dream of matching. And yet, here we are, with a Lebanese MP thinking he has the right to joke about another politician, just because she’s a woman, from a sexual way, while he basks in his own irrelevance.

But you can’t expect much from someone who thinks a woman who is raped should be held accountable for her own rape, especially when he defends himself by saying that “women in the audience agreed with me.” There are plenty of self-hating individuals out there, as is evident by all the Arabs that voted for the man who tried to ban their own family members from entering the country one week into his presidency, but I digress.

What can you expect from a man who wants to keep his wife as close to him as possible because he can’t trust her to be her own person?

Elie Marouni doesn’t think his extent of ridicule and low-level rhetoric stops there. Like his role model Trump, he also wants to build a wall along our border with Syria. The wall is, as he calls it, a wall to control things and not to separate. I guess we must all re-evaluate our basic knowledge and understanding of walls because, as far as humanity knew, the basic function of a wall is to separate. You can refer to what Israel is doing to Palestinians across their land for further information. I bet they also call it a “wall to control things.”

He also wants to send refugees, whom he calls “emigrants,” because they obviously left their country voluntarily to come live in ours, back to their home-land. Perhaps that’s what he meant by the “disgust” he referred to when he said he shared a lot of Trump’s ideas?

This person, ladies and gentlemen, is a member of Lebanon’s parliament, and one who will probably be voted back in this May if he doesn’t postpone elections for the third time that is. Lebanon, we deserve better than an MP who thinks our women’s bodies being violated is not the fault of the person violating them. We deserve better than an MP who has the audacity to bring down women who have done more than he will ever do in four lifetimes just because their husbands are pigs. We deserve better than this level of fear from others legislating on our behalf.

Welcome to the age when xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, sexism and misogyny are worn with pride.

Check the video here.

13 Middle Eastern Immigrants Who Made America & The World Great

With Middle Easterners becoming the boogeymen of the world, it’s worth remembering that, despite all the mayhem ravaging their countries and the extremist movements that kill them on daily basis, many of them have used their talents for the greater good and contributed to the betterment of humanity and made America great in their own way.

1. Gebran Khalil Gebran:

Gebran Khalil, who has a monument commemorating him in the heart of Boston, is one of the most celebrated writers in the United States. One of the most influential and top-selling books in the world, The Prophet was written by the Lebanese immigrant from Bcharre. It has been translated to 40 languages, has never been out of print, and has been the center of multiple adaptations the last of which was an animated movie by Salma Hayek.

 2. Tony Fadell:

The name may not be a household item for many, but what Tony Fadell has created has not only revolutionized the way we look at music, it also changed our relationship with our own homes. The iPod, that device with the click-wheel that, only a decade go, changed the entire music landscape was his creation. He later on founded Nest Labs, which created the Nest Thermostat. He’s Lebanese.

3. Michael DeBakey:

Dr. Michael DeBakey, who passed away a few years ago, was a true medical pioneer for the entire world. As medical students, we memorize his classification of aortic aneurysms and use it as a standard. He created a multiple of medical devices that have become essential in cardiothoracic surgery. He was also one of the first physicians ever to do carotid artery bypass grafts, a surgery which was revolutionary at the time and is still cutting-edge today. He was also Lebanese.

4. Donna Shalala:

Mrs. Shalala was United States Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001. She was the president of the University of Miami, a private university in Coral Gables, Florida, from 2001 through 2015. She is, until now, the longest running secretary of health and the first Arab American to be as such.

5. Shakira:

One of the most successful female singers around the world, and arguably the most successful latino singer is Shakira whose hits “Whenever Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie” have made her a household item is originally Lebanese. Her father is from Zahle and her maternal grandmother from Tannourine. Hashtag Batroun pride.

6. Edward Said:

The late Edward Said was a professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, and a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies. A Palestinian-American, his father was a U.S. army veteran. Known for the book Orientalism, a critique of how the Western world perceives The Orient, he transformed the academic discourse in Middle Eastern studies and in the studies of cultures.

7. Reem Acra:

Reem Acra is one of the most important fashion designers around the globe today. Based in New York, she has become one of the most awaited on any red carpet. She lately made headlines by dressing up First Lady Melania Trump for her pre-inauguration dinner with her husband, U.S. president Donald Trump.

8. Zaha Hadid:

The late Zaha Hadid was an Iraqi architect whose works have spanned the entire globe. From football stadiums to parliaments to university faculties, she is as controversial as she is iconic. Zaha Hadid was one of the top architects in the world and the leading female architect at that.

9. Charles Elachi:

Mr. Elachi is a Lebanese professor of electrical engineering and planetary science at the California Institute of Technology. From 2001 to 2016, he was director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and vice president of Caltech as well. He was one of the key figures in NASA’s space explorations from the 1990s onwards and has been inundated with more awards than one could count.

10. Ilhan Omar:

On the day Donald Trump was voted president, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American person (and woman) to win a legislature seat. She was born in Mogadishu, but her family fled after dictator Siad Barre was toppled in 1991 and Somalia collapsed into violence, famine and religious fanaticism. She fled to a Kenyan refugee camp, from which she was resettled in the U.S. four years later. Soon enough, she moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she now serves in the state legislature.

Twelve-year-old Omar knew little English and grew frustrated that teachers continuously overlooked her in class. She once showed pluck when a maths teacher ignored her raised hand when asking pupils to solve a number puzzle.

11. Helen Thomas:

The child of immigrants from Tripoli, Lebanon, Helen Thomas was an American author and news service reporter, member of the White House press corps and opinion columnist. She was a columnist for Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010, writing on national affairs and the White House. She covered the administrations of eleven U.S. presidents — from the final years of the Eisenhower administration to the second year of the Obama administration.

12. Whoever Created Hummus:

Yes, seriously. We gave you hummus. Have some respect. You may have ruined it with celery (don’t do that), but you still got it from us no matter what the Israelis do or say.

13. Steve Jobs:

A little bit of a stretch, but Steve Jobs is technically the son of a Syrian (Muslim) immigrant who, under Trump, wouldn’t have been born given that his father wouldn’t have been allowed into the country. Lucky for the world, that did not happen back then. Steve Jobs went on to found one of the leading tech companies in the world, which gave us the Macintosh, the iPhone, iPad, and a slew of other devices that have become the benchmark of technology today. Period.

Bonus – Jesus:

Jesus was a Middle Eastern man, whose mother was veiled, and who probably wouldn’t have been allowed entry to the countries banning people on their place of origin. It is through him that Christianity was given to the world. As such, Christianity is a Middle Eastern export. You are welcome.

Food for thought:

Great people come from all places. Where you come from has no bearing on the kind of person you will end up becoming if you are given an equal chance at making it. Let’s not put people in boxes based on where they come from, ban them from fulfilling their true potential out of fear and cower away in bubbles because we’re too comfortable there. The next big thing could be in the mind of those we hide away.

To The Americans Fighting The #MuslimBan, A Middle Eastern Thank You


Dear Americans standing up for human decency,

Thank you.

As I saw the thousands of you gather around airports in the country, chanting against a ban that sees only hate, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how wonderful you are as people who care about others who are being targeted for things out of their control, for standing up to those of us who are weakened across the world.

To the protestors who stormed city squares and airports in a completely spontaneous manner because they couldn’t sit by and be complacent to such injustice, thank you.

To the translators offering their tongues and time to people whose voices have been taken away from them, thank you.

To the lawyers and the ACLU offering everything that they can give to those who have nothing to offer back, thank you.

To the army veterans, whose chests are adorned with Purple Hearts, standing at airports because this isn’t what they fought for, thank you.

To those who have defied their parents, friends and comfort zones to stand up for what’s right, thank you.

To the employers making sure their employees know their workplace is a place of inclusion, not exclusion, thank you.

To the hospital program directors who are making sure to reassure residency applicants, that are needed by America so, that their programs don’t look at country or race or visa status, thank you.

To the celebrities whose views have been chastised for so long, who have painted their bodies and advocated from the most watched podiums for those whose entire lives have been uprooted because of a signature, thank you.

To the taxis of New York, who risked their livelihoods for humanity, thank you.

To those applauding at airports as detainees were let free, for bringing tears to our eyes for your solidarity, thank you.

To the American companies, like Starbucks and Lyft, who want to hire refugees and are standing against oppression, thank you.

To the conservatives who voted for the man causing this, and who are now shell-shocked about what is taking place and refusing to stand by it, thank you.

To the Republicans who are not represented by this man and who refuse to partake in this, thank you.

To the Christians in America who know their religion is about love and acceptance, who know that Jesus wants them to turn the other cheek and not cower away in fear, thank you.

To the wonderful Americans who are spending their days and nights and all their free time shouting to whoever could listen that there are values in this world that are more important than politics, thank you.

To the ones who see us as people, not as baggage with frightening connotations in societies they don’t understand, people who should be given the same chance at a better life that their ancestors got, thank you.

Over the last few days, you have shown us an America that is, truly, a beacon of hope for the world, and hope is the weapon that scares those who feed on hate the most: to know that despite everything that they do, there will still be people who will not stay silent or complacent or succumb to fear.

I’m typing this today on a New York subway, in awe of what you are accomplishing and humbled by the outflow of compassion you are showing people you’ve ever met, that you’ve been taught all your life to fear and believe they only want what is bad for you. 

The freedom which you are exercising is the embodiment of the foundations your great country was built upon, that which entrances anyone who sees it, that which welcomes in all the weary, the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses waiting to breathe in that same freedom.

You are showing us every day that, in a world overtaken by darkness, that ideals can overturn tyranny and that it is okay to still hope in the face of such atrocities.
To paraphrase J.K. Rowling: “[hope] can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” Thank you for shining bright. 

 

The Humiliation of Entering The United States As Arab

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

I was rejected the US visa for the first time when I was fifteen. I remember standing there, in front of the Embassy Consulate, unsure as to why I was being shut away, as just a young boy, from spending a summer abroad with his family. I was told I didn’t have an “extended enough travel history,” because as you know most 15 year olds have probably been around the world.

Ten years later, after months of back and forth with the Embassy and papers flowing in and out, I was finally given a visitor’s visa for 5 years on my third try, routine for Lebanese citizens who were granted the document as far as I know. A few months later, I visited the United States of America for the first time ever.

On my second visit, the border control officer said his system “couldn’t process” me, so I was taken into another room where, an hour and another interrogation later, I was permitted entry to come into the US to do my medical residency interviews. This happened again on my third entry, with longer waiting times. Entering the US has been the most invasive thing to my being, and I’ve survived medical school.

It’s also what has been happening to many of my colleagues and friends: doctors, scientists, researchers, humans. Just because they were unfortunate enough to be born in countries that are not worthy of enough of having their citizens treated with the minimum of human decency. I can tell you stories about physicians who were kept in those rooms for four hours, waiting for who knows what. It’s never easy to sit there and not know what’s going to happen to you, just because you dared seek entry of a foreign country that you’ve already been thoroughly vetted to be given a visa to.

This process that we go through every time we want to come here, that we know we have to willingly subject ourselves to in order for us to visit New York or some monument or even see some extended family is, apparently, not “rigorous” enough.

Today, on my third visit, with the news of president Donald Trump stopping visas and entries from countries he doesn’t like and even though my country isn’t on the list, I’m the most scared and the most unwelcome I’ve felt in a country whose history celebrates its diversity and its enabling of people from all kinds by giving them a chance at making it.

Not if your kind is Arab.

You’ll read plenty about illegal immigrants, but the fact of the matter is the United States scares me too much for me not to abide by its laws. It’s not about how it cracks down on illegals or how it’s managed to change the course of my region for centuries to come. It’s about how humiliated I’ve felt every single time I’ve applied for that visa.

Many of you wouldn’t think twice about the notion of a “tourist visa.” To most of you, the term is as foreign as that of the person demanding it, but every single time we apply for one – be it for the United States or any other country – we have to subject ourselves to the most rigorous of checks, be ready to provide every form of documentation imaginable. Just for a visit.

And this isn’t rigorous enough.

For a refugee to be granted entry to the United States, they must first apply through the UNHCR, which conducts its own interviews and documentation collection process. Those selected for re-settlement in the United States have their files referred to the State Department which puts the refugee through screening by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI and DHS. More anti-fraud agencies come into play later as well as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS), which interviews the refugees, fingerprints them, and runs those fingerprints through the FBI, DHS and Department of Defense.

If a refugee passes through all of that, they are given health screenings to make sure they’re not bringing in any diseases to the US, while being enrolled in cultural orientation classes as they wait, while their information is checked constantly against terrorist databases. On September 15th, 2016, the US House of Representatives also voted to add further screening steps that require the FBI director to sign off on every single refugee.

Over the past 15 years, the United States, also the world’s third largest country in size and population, has re-settled only around 780,000 refugees.

And this isn’t rigorous enough either.

The fact that my friends have to be told by their employers not to go home for fear of their visas not getting renewed, and have their families not be able to visit them because someone out there is so afraid of them existing is 2017’s reality for many. But we can’t say anything about it, because it’s their country and we’re just parasites in it.

Growing up, America was always a place of hope for me. It was from where, as a kid, my relatives visited with gifts. It was the place from which, growing up, my favorite musicians, series and movies emanated. It is the place, today, that I’m working diligently as a graduated physician to come train in. Today, that place gives me anxiety, just for coming from a certain country in a region whose entirety is on a blacklist, knowing that the most illegal thing I’ve done in my life was break speeding limits.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that selective targeting is never a good thing nor does it build better societies nor does it contribute to the betterment of countries. After all, isn’t one of the most shameful events in American history were the Japanese internment camps around World War II?

With every passing day of Trump’s presidency, and at this rate it is daily, America’s image is getting distorted. Perhaps that is what those who voted for him want: for it not to remain a country of inclusiveness, and become a walled – literally? – state. But it’s also my belief that no country can ever truly be great through hate, fear, the refusal of anything that is different and the denigration of a people. A few decades ago, Anne Frank and her family were denied American visas. How many Anne Franks will be refused away because of fear today?

Why Donald Trump Is Probably Part-Lebanese

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With each passing day leading up to America voting on November 8th, there’s a growing conviction that gets reinforced in my head, and that is that the Republican bigot and racist nominee cannot but have some part of him be Lebanese. It’s just the way it is, no genetic testing needed. And this is why.

He’s a politician who hates women:

From statements about him just grabbing women “in the pussy,” to making women feel inadequate about the fact they get their period, to calling a former Miss Universe “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight, to believing that pregnancy is a nuisance for his business, to him believing that sexual assault in the military is obviously logical because the two genders are mixed.

The examples are endless. This link (here) is just a brief summary of some of them.

Of course, while such statements are absolutely horrifying for Americans (even though around 43% of them still want to vote for him), they are only second nature to us as Lebanese. How could they not when we’ve got full blown MPs who think women should be blamed for being raped?

He’s racist:

He’s gonna build a wall, a wall that will be so YUGE!, and who’s gonna pay for that wall? SYRIA! Oh wait. Never mind. Had a little mix up there.

From his anti-Mexican statements, to his overall anti-anything-not-American-Blonde-and-White rhetoric, to turning a blind eye to KKK members campaigning for him, to questioning if Barack Obama was born in the United States, the examples are also – once again – endless.

Not to say that *all* Lebanese are racists, but man, those refugees are just ugh! And can you imagine sharing a pool with a maid? What is this, Colonial Africa? And what’s to say about our minister of foreign affairs? Of course he’s right about not wanting to give Syrians or Palestinians who marry Lebanese women the precious Lebanese nationality. America has KKK, we have 961.

He doesn’t pay taxes and is proud of it:

When interrogated by Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate about his taxes, alluding to him not paying them, Trump replied: “that makes me smart.” A few days later, the New York Times risked legal action to leak part of his tax returns showing he didn’t pay anything for over 18 years because of being able to manipulate the American tax code like a pro.

His Republican aids came to his rescue. Rudy Guliani turned him into a “genius” for doing what he did, saying that that alone made him more capable to lead the country than “a woman” (refer to point #1).

Americans (not the 42% still voting for him at least) were outraged. Gasps were reportedly heard among undecided voters being used as focus groups during the debate at his tax statements. How could he get Americans (again, not those 42%) to feel like they are “less smart” for actually contributing to their country?

In this side of the world, however, Donald Trump not paying his taxes doesn’t make him smart at all. It makes him just another regular Lebanese. Income tax? What is that again? Electricity Bill? They don’t even dare enter my neighborhood to collect man. Water? Meh, it’s not like they’re gonna cut me off anyway. VAT? Haha, I’ll buy using my foreign passport. 😉

He hates Muslims:

He wants to ban Muslims – all 1.6 billion of them – from entering the United States because a small faction of them, numbered at less than 10,000 individuals worldwide, are terrorizing people.

When his statements were demolished by Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of United States Army Captain Humayun Khan who gave up his life saving his fellow soldiers, Trump’s response was not to apologize, but to allude to Ghazala not speaking to her being an oppressed Muslim woman.

The memory of her son was still, years later, too much for her to bear to address the entirety of the United States.

In these parts of the world, the hate of others for being of a different religion on both sides is existent, albeit not applicable to everyone thankfully. The deeper you go in the Lebanese Bible or Quran belts, the more engrained is the mentality that those who pray differently are to be feared. It takes a lot to break out of that.

He lies about everything all the time:

Global warming is a Chinese hoax, he tweeted a few years ago. Flash forward to September 2016 and he denied he ever said it. He supported the War on Iraq. Flash forward a few years later and he denies he ever did.

He comes up with one lie after the other, believes them, and refuses to be fact-checked. Wasn’t it about 90 seconds before he dropped his first lie at the first Presidential Debate?

His Lebanese brethren practice this dogma to the letter. Fact checking is irrelevant here. If it’s my opinion, then it’s a fact and you better deal with it, Lebanon-style.

His top advisor is Lebanese:

Walid Phares – no relation, thank God – is one of Donald Trump’s top advisors and councils him on a lot of issues, notably foreign affairs. Phares’ personal history is relevant for being a Lebanese Forces officer during the Civil War, and leaving to the United States while still retaining his “Christians are better than everyone else because they are Christians” mantra (read point #4).

During the 1980s, Phares, a Maronite Christian, trained Lebanese militants in ideological beliefs justifying the war against Lebanon’s Muslims. Justified back then, perhaps and debatable, but he hasn’t left that mentality behind. He was also a main contributor to the planning behind the Sabra and Chatila massacres.

Birds of a feather flock together, Lebanon style?

Fails at so many things, brags anyway:

From failed universities, to failed steak ventures, to hotels driven to the ground, his career hasn’t exactly been the beacon of bright light that his father’s “small loan” of $14 million kickstarted.

That hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from making sure that everyone and their mother knew that:

  1. He had money,
  2. He has made money,
  3. He has bought stuff with his money,
  4. He can buy more stuff with that money,
  5. He has money,
  6. He will have more money,
  7. The time it took you to read this list has seen him make even more money,
  8. This is a random number on the list because money.

In Lebanon, one may be starving but one would never ever dare show it. One must always buy the fanciest of clothes, go to the most expensive clubs and pretend that life is nothing but instagram-rich-perfect 24/7. Then you go home and decide water is enough for dinner (Evian if with friends, tap if at home alone). Or when you’ve barely made it through your bachelor degree but call yourself a doctor anyway.

A Final Word:

America, 42% is a lot. Wake up.

Lebanon, this doesn’t apply to every one of us, but many have such traits let’s not beat around the bush, as do most of our politicians. Let’s get rid of them like America will (hopefully) get rid of our export to them?

Victims, Not Threats: The Massacred In Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Yemen Are Not Terrorists For Hateful Rhetoric

Meet Adel Al-Jaf. He also calls himself Adel Euro, so you might know him by that. He was a rapper, a dancer and a man who tried to do the best that he could with what he had in his country. Last year, Adel said he was lucky enough to narrowly escape an explosion in Baghdad so he could dance again. This time, Adel was not as lucky.

Adel Euro Adel Al-Jaf

He is one of the 200 people in Iraq who, instead of buying Eid gifts these days as Eid el Fitr comes tomorrow, are buying coffins for their loved ones.

In the blink of an eye, an explosives-ridden van detonated itself through a busy shopping mall in Baghdad. Two hundred families, as a result, lay shattered, maimed, beyond repair, beyond the ability to heal.

It’s become way too easy to dismiss the deaths of those two hundred innocent people as just another thing that happens in *those* parts of the world, in a country (like Iraq) where suicide bombs are an every day occurrence.

But it’s not. And even if it is, the normalization of their tragedy makes the brutality of reality even more horrific. These were people, just like a regular American or European – because we all know your worth is higher the whiter your skin is – who could have been going to the Mall to buy their children and loved ones Christmas gifts.

And yet today, the Eiffel tower didn’t light up to remember them as it did yesterday to commemorate France’s victory in a football game. Even Burj el Arab, which remembered the victims of Brussels and Paris, while failing to remember the massacred of Beirut and Istanbul, couldn’t care less about the brutality of what took place less than 2 hours away. I guess keeping up with the westernized value of human lives is more befit of the image Dubai wants to give itself, so who are we to judge?

Today, those two hundred people that were brutally massacred as they went about their daily lives in Iraq are considered terrorists to be by many. The forty that died in Beirut almost 8 months ago are also considered as such. The hundreds of thousands that died and are dying in Syria are nothing but pests who have, thankfully, not encroached on the holiness of Western values, and so are the people of Yemen.

Good riddance, Donald Trump and his supporters would say. They had it coming, the far right across the world would point its finger and blurt out. And to those people, at the wake of my region being burned once again partly because of the repercussions of the actions of their people, I can’t but say: the only terrorist is you.

Sarah Sadaka, an Arab living in the United States, was going to a Best Buy store today. She went into that store speaking on her phone in Arabic, only to be circled by a woman who made it clear that her presence, her skin, her language made her uncomfortable. No one came to Sarah’s defense: she was just another sand nigger, breathing that free American air on the fourth of July. She did not deserve to have her right as a human being not to be violated that way taken away, she is, after all, only Arab.

Sarah, today, is the living embodiment of what it is to be the victim of terrorism in the United States, except this time it’s the brand championed by the likes of Donald Trump and the people with whom his rhetoric resonates.

When Omar Mateen went to a gay night club in Orlando and killed fifty people, mainstream American media only saw his name Omar as enough reason to justify his actions. He was just another Muslim. He was just another Middle Eastern offended by “our” way of life. Except Omar Mateen did not do so in the name of Islam, he did it in the name of his own insecurities, the insecurities of a man who is afraid of his own sexuality and who is so deluded in his own belief that he’d support two politically opposed factions in Hezbollah and ISIS as vindications for his action.

Omar Mateen’s characterization, and the repercussions that follow it, are a direct result of the kind of terrorism that Arabs and Muslims have to endure at the hands of people like Donald Trump, the Far Right across the world, and the minds that listen to them.

My mother tongue has become synonymous in people’s minds with death. If I speak it on a plane, I become an automatic threat, forced to undergo security checks, apprehended by officials because the words I utter from lips only resonate with fear, even if it’s to say: peace be upon you.

Victims, not threats. The more we are silent towards our murder, our decimation, and our characterization as people who do not deserve to live, the more we perpetuate the notion that people who think of Muslims, Arabs, Middle Easterners and those that live in the area are worth nothing is true. The more we are subdued in not demanding our deaths be remembered, be proclaimed, be cared for, the more our inherent value slips even further, even less than it already is, down an abyss in which the least valuable lives on this planet are Arab lives.

I should not be living in a world where I need to convince a friend of mine not to name his son Abdul Rahman because the name is “too Muslim.” I should not be living in a world where I have to defend myself at my own funeral. I should not be living in a world where the deaths of two hundred Iraqis is considered as just another bleb on the evening news, as they are just a waste of space.

We are people too, and we are worthy of life, one in which two hundred of us do not die at a mall buying new clothes for their children. We are victims, not threats.