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Uneasy times for Muslims, even in the Okanagan

Kelowna student speaks out against American travel ban.
February 03, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KELOWNA - For Roaa Ramadan, the newly implemented U.S. travel ban hits close to home.

Ramadan is a muslim, first year nursing student at UBCO, she says she is no longer considering pursuing education in the U.S.

“I was thinking about going to New York, but now I don’t really want to go,” she says. “Although a lot of people are against the ban and (Trump’s) rhetoric, there are people out there supporting him and sharing the same views - I’d rather not risk what could happen to me.”

One of Ramadan’s family members was also planning on studying in the States, however due to his Libyan citizenship, that possibility is now unclear.

Ramadan was born in Libya, although she is of Pakistani decent. Before moving to Kelowna this past year, she lived in Surrey, B.C. with her family.

Following the Québec City mosque shooting, Ramadan says she has to be much more aware of her surroundings.

“After what happened in Québec, I realized I have to be more vigilant,” she says. “My religious symbol - my hijab - is always on display, and I don’t really have the luxury of hiding that.”

Ramadan says the shooting has made her realize that what happened in Québec, could happen anywhere.

“I think a lot of people, like myself, have thought that in Canada we’re in kind of a bubble,” she says. “We’ve always looked down on the States and thought that they’re the ones with the issue, now i’ve realized that our bubble is penetrable.

The amount of support people across the country have shown in the days after the shooting and the travel ban have surprised Ramadan.

“I did expect this support from Canadians, but not to this extent,” she said.

For Ramadan, it’s up to everyone to support the Muslim community.

“People need to start changing the conversation - talk to people, meet Muslims, go to your local Mosque,” she says. “I don’t want to have to defend who I am all the time, I shouldn’t have to show people i’m normal.”

The executive order put in place Jan. 27, bans citizens from seven Muslim majority nations from entering the United States, for a period of 90 days.

According to Susan Danard, managing director for public affairs at UBC, approximately 350 undergraduate students at the university have been directly affected by the ban. Ninety people, students and staff, are affected at the Okanagan campus.

“Our main concern is that students and faculty feel that they’re being supported and they’re not alone,” said Danard.

The University’s president, Santa J. Ono, announced the university is setting up a $250,000 task force in response to the ban.

The seven countries affected are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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