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Women and girls stand to be particularly affected by President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees as well as all travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, and indefinitely banning Syrian refugees. This shuts the door on female refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and other countries where women’s human rights are particularly vulnerable; the anti-Muslim nature of the ban also increases pressure on women wearing hijab in the U.S.

Syrian women face not only the physical insecurity of a deadly proxy war, but also the danger of ISIS and other religious extremist groups whose leaders seek to control women’s bodies and their movements. This new policy closes the door on those women seeking refuge. Even the Yazidis of Iraq, the Christian minority group that has suffered the loss of thousands of women and girls who have been captured by ISIS and held as sex slaves, have been “denied boarding on U.S.-bound flights despite visas,” reported NPR’s Jane Arraf on Twitter.

On Saturday and Sunday, thousands gathered at Dulles Airport in Virginia and in New York, Dallas, Chicago and elsewhere to protest the executive order. Meanwhile, Muslim-American women at Dulles—and their daughters—were at the forefront of a peaceful resistance movement.

“The executive order says that it doesn’t want to let in people who support honor killings, but then [Trump] won’t let in the women who are at risk of these honor killings,” said Mirriam Seddiq, an Afghan-American criminal defense lawyer who fielded questions from the press on behalf of the hundreds of lawyers assembled. Seddiq stood in front of dozens of advocates camped out on laptops, surrounded by pizza boxes and tangerines meant to last them through the night. Many of the lawyers held signs that said, “Know someone who has been detained? I can help.”

As a woman in hijab ushered her children through the narrow walkway at Dulles international arrivals, surrounded on both sides by hordes of Muslim-American families and lawyers, the crowd broke out singing, “This land is my land, this land is your land.”

“What we’ve seen is that they are sending people to secondary detainment who are not just from the countries on the list, but from all Muslim countries and from Africa,” said Sara Dill, a 37 year-old Muslim-American from Chicago and a lawyer with the American Bar Association, her tired face lined by a tightly wrapped bright yellow headscarf. Dill said of the ban on Syrian refugees to the U.S.: “the women and children coming out of Syria… have a dictator committing war crimes, they are coming out of this trauma…They had all of this hope that they were finally going to have safety and freedom, and they are being sent back.”

“It’s the same as always… they hide their bigotry and misogyny by saying it’s only if they [Muslim women] aren’t here yet,” said Seddiq, who recently started the American Muslim Women Political Action Committee and says it is more important than ever to have Muslim women in elected office.

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[Photo credit: Mike Theiler/Reuters]
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