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Foster meets at Islamic Center to discuss Trump travel ban

Feb 13, 2017
In The News

Aadil Farid believes something good has come from President Donald Trump's now-stalled ban on travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

"Out of the ugliness we've seen, something beautiful has come up," Farid, former president of the Islamic Center of Naperville, told a group meeting with a suburban congressman Monday. "Great numbers have come together and gathered in various places of worship" in opposition of Trump's ban, he said.

About 150 people met Monday morning at the Islamic Center of Naperville, 2844 W. Ogden Ave., to hear U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and show support for those directly affected by the ban.

"Our country," Foster said, "thrives on immigration and the culture and diversity that immigrants from all walks of life bring to the United States. But since taking office less than a month ago, President Trump has made it clear his administration would stand against those values."

Foster criticized Trump's ban on immigrants from seven majority Muslim nations, saying it is "religious bigotry."

"While the President claims these actions are in the best interests of national security, he seems unwilling to grasp the fact that zero people have been killed by terrorist attacks on American soil by immigrant from the seven countries affected by his executive order," Foster said to applause.

Naperville residents Pat Lawrence and Joan Norman said they attended because they are very concerned about the policy.

"I'm anxious to hear what's going on. I support the Muslims," said Lawrence, who also said she hopes Trump "remembers the Christian values."

The Islamic Center of Naperville has received much support from many non-Muslim neighbors during this time, said Shoaib Khadri, current president of the center. All are invited to attend an Open Mosque Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 23.

"The attraction for us to move to this country was the principles that the Founding Fathers established in the Constitution of liberty and justice for all," Khadri said. "We have faith that all people of conscience will come together, and together we will overcome intolerance, hatred and bigotry and truly make American great again."

Samia Abdul-Qadir, a 17-year-old junior at Naperville North High, told the group a fencing teammate once told her she "looked like a terrorist" because she was wearing a hijab, she said.

"It pierced my heart," she told the group.

Taking a break from the discussion before flying to Washington for several votes, Foster said politicians on both sides of the aisle need to speak out.

"The reality is we will need a small number of courageous Republicans to stand with us on the side of religious freedom. You see them sticking their head up from time to time," Foster said.

He believes Trump will ignite "a wall of resistance on both sides of the aisle," if he tries to connect the ban to religion.

"That is profoundly un-American. Democrats and Republicans recognize that," Foster said. "The President has and should have broad authority on issues of immigration and control of our borders, but you can't establish a religious test for that."

Foster was impressed by Monday's turnout, saying "it looked like Naperville, Bolingbrook, Aurora, Joliet, the 11th District, Illinois and America."

Aurora residents Carolyn and Gene Atkin, members of DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church, attended because they are concerned about the order. "And we want to do what we can do to help," Carolyn Atkin said.

"The biggest problem," Gene Atkin said, "is propaganda and the Muslims are being used as scapegoats. That's how fascist organizations get power, using scapegoats."

Steven Metsch is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.