By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Diaspora gangs from the seven Muslim-majority countries over US President Donald Trump‘s original travel ban took the stage in Austin to build resistance against executive orders that critics see that perpetuate fanaticism.
For many musicians at the “ContraBanned” showcase that ran from Friday night to early Saturday at the South by Southwest music festival, the show put a human face on the countries that have become a focal point of the current American politics.
“I understand that the travel ban was made with the impression of ensuring a safe place for Americans. I feel it is shortsighted and perpetuates the xenophobia that exists in this country,” said Bassel Almadani, leader and vocalist of soul and funk. Bassel & The Supernaturals band.
Almadani, raised in the American Midwest to Syrian-born parents, has family members who have given up hope of leaving the country torn by civil war because of Trump’s proposed bans.
He has been trying to use his act to raise awareness of the six-year civil war that has set new standards of savagery in its impact on the civilian population, leaving an estimated half a million people dead.
The Trump administration has said that its executive orders are common sense approaches that will protect the American people.
The attention to bans has opened the door for Almadani to knock on places like churches in Kansas where parishioners want to learn more.
“For a good five years there, I thought I was making faces to get that conversation moving,” Almadani said in an interview.
“It wasn’t until the immigration ban went into effect that people became more focused on the issue and more supportive of the cause.”
Before so-called “travel ban gangs” took the stage in Texas, the United States government said it would appeal a federal judge’s decision that struck down parts of Trump’s travel ban on the day it took effect. .
The events included Kayem, a Libyan-American from Chicago, and sister group Faarrow, born in Mogadishu, Somalia and transferred to Canada from a refugee camp.
Ash Koosha, an Iranian-born London-based artist, did not attend after having trouble obtaining a visa.
South Sudanese-Canadian artist Emmanuel Jal said the exhibition dubbed “music of the forbidden nations” could change hearts and minds.
“The people who voted for Trump voted out of fear. Let’s fight with love because love will win,” he said.
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