The logic behind travel bans

Recently newly appointed US president Donald Trump issued a travel ban against citizens from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia. I think Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban very interesting for several reasons. 

First, people who were to become refugees in the US have been through a two year long thorough vetting process. I think if there was fear to give refugee status to terrorists, the best time to make sure this does not happen should have been through the vetting process. Banning them after giving the refugee status does not make sense at all.

Second, the none of 9/11 hijackers from different Muslim countries, but none of them were on the ban list. Nevertheless the homelands of the hijackers are not on the list and there has never been a travel ban against these countries.

Third, the countries on the list have problems with terrorism, and in fact most of their governments are engaged in fighting against it. What does it say about the US and its commitment to the War against Terror when it refuses the refugees of these countries?

Fourth, terrorism is a global issue. The foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq who later joined ISIS where actually Europeans who converted to an extremist version of Islam and joined ISIS. According the the ’Trumpian’ Logic, most countries in the world would deserve a travel ban as well.

But here is the problem. Many people think that this decision is something related to new policy of Trump. Most have forgotten that congress in fact has passed in December 2015 a bill to restrict the travel of people who were born or have visited Syria, and Iraq. This is a worrisome development in today’s supposedly global and more connected world.

But it seems that the negative aspect of glocalisation are happening, when the the people of the world start to follow identity politics, feeling different as much as they ought to feel the same. Of course feeling and celebrating difference is not an issue as long is it does not end in labelling and othering people. But its a whole new level when these actions are lead by the supposed leader of the free world.

Some might say that these travel bans are temporary. Even if they are, I doubt that they won’t have negative consequences on the freedom of movement, at least in the near future. Furthermore, they acts as icebreakers for further bans or other drastic measures followed in the name of security.

I do believe that something needs to be done in order to end extremism, Islamic and others.  And I believe that sometimes some restrictions might be necessary to safeguard against dangers, especially those related to terrorism. However the best thing to do that is to start at home. In Europe, there are mosques of specific sects and political orientation that are so extreme that even a Muslim from another sect would not dare to enter these mosques. The large number of foreign fighters from European origin indicates that these extremists are able to moblise and organise themselves very well on European ground.  I’m not advocating Mosque crackdowns. But better focused security is needed to prevent terror recruitment on European soil instead of blind travel bans.

I also believe that instead of being super strict on citizens from specific countries, Western powers should be stricter on selling weapons to governments. And as it is, many countries who are hotbeds for terrorists are in fact US and Western allies. Instead of worrying about loosing the competition with Russia on weapon sales, the free world should be more concerned about world security and not easily pressured by weapon companies who sadly play notorious and suspicious roles in global conflicts.


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