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Defending Human Rights, Protecting Human Rights Defenders

Tonight, I hugged my dear dear friend Mohamed and wouldn’t let go. I had the honor to speak alongside him on a panel entitled Defending Human Rights, Protecting Human Rights Defenders with the German Consul General. The evening took on new meaning in the wake of Trump’s executive actions, in an already highly charged, divided, tumultuous political and social global landscape.

Mohamed is Sudanese. Mohamed is Muslim. Mohamed is from one of the seven predominantly Muslim Middle Eastern and African countries from which Donald Trump suspended all immigration for at least 30 days, alongside Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iran.

The President of the United States of America has immediately closed the door on people fleeing religious, ethnic and political persecution, violence, and threats (with limited exception for religious minorities). In addition to halting visas and immigration, he has banned all new refugees, even from war-torn Syria.

Mohamed is a peace and human rights activist, a brave soul who started his first NGO in Sudan at the age of 14 to protect the most vulnerable. After decades defying odds and dodging government, he fled and, by the unrelenting graces of a remarkable group of our friends and high level allies, Mohamed now continues critical cross-cultural work from the safety of the United States.

He is one of my heroes, one of my favorite human beings, one of the grand additions to this country, alongside millions and millions of exceptional individuals and families who are integral to the past, present and future success and rich fabric of the USA.


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