About 1,000 people gathered Sunday in front of the Fayette County district courthouse to protest the federal ban on travelers from certain Muslims-majority countries.
One of the organizers, Tates Creek junior Bayan Megariaf, said her best friend’s aunt had her visa revoked as a result of the ban.
Megariaf, who said her parents opposed former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, said it’s in her blood to fight against what’s wrong and “not take any crap from anyone.”
Various people spoke at the rally, many of them congratulating the young group of organizers and leading chants such as “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.”
The protest was organized by nine students, ranging from middle-school to college. Megariaf, said she and her peers saw protests across the nation and felt empowered by those who also oppose the ban. They decided to organize their own rally in Lexington.
“All we had to do was promote and let people know and explain why we need Lexington to come together and join forces against this,” she said.
One of the speakers was Ihsan Bagby, a University of Kentucky professor of Islamic Studies.
“We are upset, we are mad, we are unhappy, something is wrong going on in our society because we are not living up to the ideals of America,” he said.
Admin Husic, a Bosnian Muslim refugee who fled the country in the ’90s following the Bosnian genocide, said he attended the rally to remind people about immigrants wanting to help themselves and others.
“I think sometimes people think that immigrants come here and people sometimes view them as competition rather than as people who want to contribute and want to help grow the country,” he said.
The ban — also known as Executive Order 13769, named “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” — bars nearly all travelers, except U.S. citizens, traveling on passports from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. It also suspends the Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days while screening procedures are reviewed.
The ban itself has been at the center of controversy. Numerous protests at various airports took place the day after the ban went into effect on Jan. 27.
Early Sunday a federal appeals court denied the Trump administration’s request to set aside Friday’s Seattle ruling that put a temporary hold on the ban nationwide. The case will extend into Monday at least.
Seema Capoor, a naturalized citizen from India, said she was at the Lexington protest because didn’t support the ban of immigrants into the country. Capoor said she was happy for those who came out to the rally, but was disappointed in the turnout.
“I was here at the Women’s March and that was quiet spectacular. So, relative to that this is disappointing,” she said.
Since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, hundreds of thousands have organized protests across the nation. On Jan. 21, millions marched in cities worldwide to promote civil rights and protest Trump, including a Lexington protest.
Dan Marsh, a Lexington resident, was also at the rally.
“Basically I just wanted to show my support to the people that might be really scared with what’s been going on with the new administration,” he said.