Opinion: Like the US, Our People Need Public Freedoms and an Independent Judiciary

Walid Bunni argues that America's success in reversing the Trump travel ban is evidence of the importance of a democratic system that adheres to the separation of powers between the executive, judicial and legislative branches

The American president issued an executive order sparking unrest and panic by banning the entry of citizens from seven Islamic nations to the United States for three months. The order included even those people who obtained official entry visas to the United States and prevented them from boarding flights. It also prevented those who were onboard flights when the order was issued and arrived on American territory from entering while also detaining many at airports.

The order stirred a very strong reaction domestically and internationally due to its clear discriminatory inclinations, unprecedented for decades, against people whose only sin was being born in specific countries and belonging to a specific religion. This contradicts the American constitution and values of American society, which is originally composed of migrants of diverse ethnicities, religions and sects.

As a result, protests spread through American cities and demonstrators surrounded airports in solidarity with those who had been detained. Americans and Europeans of diverse religions and ethnicities came out to announce their solidarity with the Muslims targeted by President Trump’s executive order, chanting slogans to welcome Muslims and refugees. Prominent American figures announced that they would register themselves as Muslim if President Trump were to issue another executive order to form a Muslim registry as he promised during his electoral campaign.

However, all these protests and demonstrations did not stop the American executive authorities from continuing to implement parts of Trump’s order. Customs officials continued to prevent arrivals from entering and the State Department continued to refuse handing out visas to citizens of the countries listed in Trump’s order. This forced prosecutors in the United States to file urgent lawsuits before American courts, which responded by issuing an order to halt the implementation of Trump’s executive order and demanded the relevant ministries to continue granting visas and allow citizens from the these countries to obtain entry visas pending a court ruling invalidating Trump’s orders — which is what actually happened.

The free voice of American society prevailed and the independent American judiciary was able to stop an order by the United States president. American institutions submitted to the order of the courts rather than the order of the president — further evidence that the division of powers and the independence of the judiciary in democratic states is what protects its people from arbitrary decisions made by elected leaders. It is also an important opportunity for the people of our region to be aware that eliminating tyranny in all its forms (whether from the Assad regime, colonialists or Islamic fundamentalists) is the necessary path to build a strong state and cohesive, stable societies able to adapt to the challenges of the times to pursue the establishment of a humane society which we have long delayed in pursuing.

The huge sacrifices from our people on the road to eliminating its oppressors and gaining their freedom and ability to decide their futures has not been free. Indeed they are sacrifices which have been paid by people of the advanced free world before us. It cost them a great deal of blood and pain and decades of instability until in the end gaining public freedoms, a division of powers, and the independence of the judiciary and constitution which do not distinguish between a society’s individuals because of their religion, beliefs or ethnicities. These are the basic principles for establishing a stable society and to pursue the establishment of a human society.

Our people will arrive at the same result sooner or later, and the task of our national political and cultural elites is to shorten the path of our pain as much as possible by not accommodating tyranny in any form and having the courage to speak the truth, whatever it may be.

Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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