Olympic and world champion runner Mo Farah (27256)

This past August in Rio de Janiero, Yusra Mardini and Rami Anis of Syria, as well as James Chiengjeik and Yiech Biel of South Sudan, among others, proudly represented the aptly named and first ever Refugee Olympic Team at the summer Olympic games. Each escaped persecution in his or her homeland and settled in another country to pursue athletic dreams, gaining global attention and support in the process. 

None of them are now welcomed in the United States as a result of President Donald Trump’s racist, anti-Muslim immigration ban. Last weekend, Trump signed an executive order barring citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia, all Muslim-majority countries, from entering the United States for the next 90 days. The order also suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days. 

Although he has frequently referenced the policy as a ban, Wednesday Trump attempted to walk back his harsh terminology. “Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a BAN,” he wrote on Twitter. “Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of country!” 

Those countries, based on empirical and quantitative studies, do not export terrorism in the manner to which Trump has alluded, unlike Saudi Arabia, arguably the world’s leader in sponsoring terrorism, which if the policy were strictly about keeping America safe, would top the banned list. Yet Trump and many of his billionaire supporters and cronies do not have business interests in the banned countries as they do Saudi Arabia, and they are not beholden to the leaders of those countries as the U.S. has been for decades to Saudi sheikhs. 

Trump’s propaganda cannot alter the immutable facts. His stroke of a pen has affected all sectors of society, not the least of which is sports. Some of the world’s greatest athletes have hailed from countries on the banned list, including track and field icon Mo Farah. The 33-year-old Farah, who hails from Mogadishu, Somalia, is one of the greatest distance runners in history, winning gold in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the London Olympics in 2012 as well as in Rio last summer. 

Farah, whose family migrated to Britain when he was 8 years old, now resides in Portland, Oregon. Over the years he has unabashedly expressed his love and appreciation for the United Kingdom and the United States. His passion and belief in righteousness and truth, the antithesis of Trump’s values, prompted this moving commentary on Facebook.  

“On 1st January this year, Her Majesty The Queen made me a Knight of the Realm. On 27th January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien. I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years, working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home. Now, me and many others like me are being told that we may not be welcome. It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home, to explain why the president has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice.”

Farah continued, “I was welcomed into Britain from Somalia at 8 years old and given the chance to succeed and realize my dreams. I have been proud to represent my country, win medals for the British people and receive the greatest honor of a knighthood. My story is an example of what can happen when you follow polices of compassion and understanding, not hate and isolation.” 

Trump has incited a movement, one that has extended globally. Athletes are an integral component of the resistance against the Trump regime. One can only hope it will grow and change the world for the better.