Awad Halabi, an associate professor at Wright State, was protesting an executive order in Dayton on Sunday that would have kept him from ending up where he is today.
“For them to shut the doors is against our own history,” said Halabi, who coordinates the Middle Eastern and Islamic studies programs at WSU.
Halabi, the son of refugees, emigrated to Canada from the area of the West Bank in 1971 before he eventually came to work at Wright State in 2005. Halabi’s parents fled Jerusalem for the West Bank in 1948 during the Arab-Israeli war.
“It’s something other people don’t realize,” Halabi said. “You don’t choose this. You don’t choose to be a refugee.”
Halabi said he is one of many whose parents fled war torn parts of the world to find refuge in other countries. With President Donald Trumps recent executive order, some are starting to hear the stories of people who they never knew were refugees, Halabi said.
“It doesn’t come up frequently but I think once people start talking about it and saying my parents were refugees too, it will change their thinking,” Halabi said.
The refugee ban is something Halabi and others consider “insulting and visceral.” It’s taken as an attack on people who just wanted to make a better life for their families, he said.
“I wouldn’t have had the education or opportunities if my parents hadn’t taken that chance,” Halabi said.
Now, Halabi said, he is trying to protect the chance his parents gave him when they left so he can make an even better life for his two kids. It’s why he said he was out protesting on Sunday.
“So, I’m here with my sign that says ‘I stand with these two cuties,’” he said of his son and daughter.
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