WATCH: Travel builds bridges, not walls, between countries, despite the Trump ban

2018-06-28 10:37
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Yemen men walking

Why travel is so important to the world, despite the Trump ban. (Photo: iStock)

With the news that the US travel ban has been upheld by the highest court in the land, it is easy for people to become despondent and demotivated by what seems like a time where society is regressing and liberal social and ethical norms and values are being questioned regularly.

It is in these times that it is important to note that, though there are indeed problems and setbacks, Martin Luther King reminded people that 'the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice'. But this bending does not happen on its own.

SEE: UPDATE: US travel ban upheld in Supreme Court

Airbnb contributed to this bending by releasing a new advert not too long after the news of the travel ban being upheld, showing the importance of travel and where we will be without it.

“We are profoundly disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the travel ban – a policy that goes against our mission and values. To restrict travel based on a person’s nationality or religion is wrong.

"We believe that travel is a transformative and powerful experience, and we will continue to open doors and build bridges between cultures around the world,” says Airbnb cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk in a statement.

Watch the advert below:

The seven nations under the Trump administration's travel ban — upheld by the US Supreme Court — include five majority Muslim countries, prompting dissenting Justice Sonia Sotomayor to assert that the entry restrictions were motivated by "animus toward the Muslim faith." The administration cites security concerns.

The list includes countries with a hostile relationship with Washington, such as North Korea, Iran and Syria. Others, such as Somalia and Yemen, are considered hotbeds of Islamic militant activity.

Most of the nations have yet to officially react to the court's decision on the ban, which has been fully in place since December, when the justices put the brakes on lower court decisions that had blocked part of it from being enforced.


The Syrian government considers itself at war with the United States and labels the presence of about 2,000 US troops in the country as an occupying force. Diplomatic ties were cut in 2012, at the onset of the civil war. Syria has been listed as a state sponsoring terrorism, with economic sanctions imposed on Syrians and Syrian entities.

Some criticize Washington for restricting entry to Syrians fleeing a conflict in which the US has had a role. The US has led an international coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

More than 6 million Syrians have fled their homeland, with most settling in nearby countries. In principle, the latest version of the US travel ban does not affect the potential resettlement of refugees to the US, including from the countries targeted by the travel ban. However, previous Trump administration restrictions on entry did affect Syrian refugees, leading to a backlog of cases at a time when the US lowered the cap on refugee admissions.

(Photo: iStock)

SEE: #AfriTravel: Chad removed off US travel ban list


President Hassan Rouhani indirectly condemned the travel ban Wednesday, saying the actions of a president who "oppresses the entire Muslim world" will not remain without a response. Many in Iran blame President Donald Trump's decision to pull America from the nuclear deal for their worsening economy.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and US Embassy takeover in Tehran, Iranians have been forced to travel to another country to apply for US visas. Many come through nearby Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where the US Consulate has a special listening post for Iran. Others travel to US diplomatic posts in Armenia and Turkey. The travel ban has forced some Iranian students in the US to stay there for fear of being unable to return. For those in Iran, they've been blocked from travelling to visit relatives in the US.

(Photo: iStock)

SEE: SA strengthens tourism ties with Islamic republic of Iran


The Arab world's poorest nation has long been considered a haven for militants linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network. Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's internationally recognised government has waged an all-out campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, trying to dislodge them from the northern region. Two million people have been displaced, more than 10,000 have been killed and Yemen has been pushed to the brink of famine.

About 44,000 Yemeni-Americans live in the US, according to the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights. When the US Embassy in the capital of Sanaa closed after the outbreak of war, Yemenis had to go to other countries to apply for US visas.

(Photo: iStock)

SEE: Ancient temple left neglected as Yemen war threatens history


Libya fell into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed strongman Moammar Gadhafi, who had ruled for more than four decades.

Since then, the North African country has emerged as a major transit point to Europe for those fleeing poverty and civil war in Africa. Libyan authorities have recently increased efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance.

(Photo: iStock)

SEE: UPDATE: US leaders propose more immigration legislation


Another al-Qaida-linked group, al-Shabab, has been staging attacks in Somalia for years. A suicide bombing in the capital of Mogadishu in October killed more than 500 people.

Between 140,000 and 170,000 Somalis — US citizens and refugees — live in the United States, according to Somali officials. Many in the Horn of Africa nation would like to join their relatives in the US to escape the violence and chaos.

Maryan Abdullahi said she felt devastated after the Supreme Court ruling, her hopes dashed that she could join her husband in Virginia. She said she and her sons, ages 6 and 8, had planned to go to neighbouring Ethiopia where their US travel plans were to have been processed. Now, Abdullahi said, "all our future plans are doomed to failure."

(Photo: iStock)

SEE: 'A Love Affair with a Continent': Kingsley Holgate team takes message of peace to Somalia


North Korea is still basking in the glow of leader Kim Jong Un's historic meeting with Trump earlier this month.

The Singapore summit was front-page news in the North's government-controlled newspapers. The North has toned down its anti-US rhetoric recently as it worked to ease tensions with Washington and neighbouring South Korea.

The US travel ban had little impact on North Koreans. More painful was a US executive order last year that barred all Americans from nonessential travel in the other direction. That cut off a small but lucrative flow of American tourists to the North.

(Photo: iStock)

SEE: Planes and armoured trains: The Kims' foreign trips in pictures


President Nicolas Maduro has been feuding with Washington for years, and last month expelled the top US diplomat for allegedly conspiring with his opponents to oust him. Dozens of Venezuelan officials already had been barred from entering the US under several rounds of targeted sanctions.

It's unclear how disruptive the new restrictions might be. In theory, they apply only to a narrow category of government officials and their relatives who are deemed responsible for failing to cooperate in vetting citizens considered a national security threat.

However, the travel ban also calls for more scrutiny of all Venezuelans applying for US visas, prompting concerns about a stigmatisation of the country at a time when hundreds of thousands are fleeing widespread shortages and hyperinflation.

(Photo: iStock)

SEE: UPDATE: US draft immigration bill gives young immigrants a path to citizenship