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The United States continues to remain a beacon of hope to many from around the world seeking refuge from oppression, wars or domestic turmoil. It is a symbol of strength and stability in a world fraught with conflict.

Even though recent times have unearthed a growing resentment against the influx of foreigners and particularly those of colour, immigrants continue to pour in, unnerved by such threats. They sense that they are escaping far worse back from where they came from. Among the thousands of immigrants that line up US shores weekly are many Muslims, who have given up on their countries of birth and are moving on to safer pastures.

The world in recent times has not been kind to Muslims. Witness the decades-long persecution of Palestinians, albeit Muslims and Christians at the hands of the Zionist-fuelled Israelis intent to turn what was once Palestinian lands into an apartheid state where only Jews can exist freely while Palestinians remain locked in concentration camp-like conditions. The acts of terrorism that the Israelis have been engaging in and successfully in spite of several UN resolutions is far worse than all the crimes combined by the despotic white South African regime that was globally sanctioned before Nelson Mandela came to the scene.

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In another part of the world, the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar continue to suffer at the hands of the Burmese government intent on erasing all identity of Muslims in a primarily Buddhist country. The term ‘Buddhist terrorism’ came into the scene following the brutality and intense severity of the crimes committed against the innocent Muslim natives of Rakhine in Myanmar at the hands of the frenzied Buddhist mobs and supported by the country’s army, rendering more than one million of them stateless. Murder, torture, and rape has been an ongoing tool against these hapless people to render them stateless, many of whom harbour a glimmer of hope that one day they would be able to escape to a safer harbour, possibly the United States.

Open prison

In India, a bizarre turn of events has turned the once idyllic state of Kashmir into a large, open prison where its citizens are sequestered and not allowed personal freedoms. A region where an estimated 8 million Muslim Kashmiris reside has today turned into a big concentration camp whereby the Indian state has enforced resolutions that are deemed questionable under international law. Acts of violence against the residents have been documented and widely reported in the international press.

In another region of India, Assam, millions of Muslims are on the verge of becoming stateless as the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is keen on revoking their claim to citizenship due to lack of identity papers. Now, these are poor and illiterate workers who have been born and are living there all their lives. Charges against ethnic cleansing are rife.

Across the narrow strip of water separating India from its southern neighbour, Sri Lankan Muslims today are under threat from another variant of Buddhist terrorism as the fiery band of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists called the Bodu Bala Sena have descended upon Muslim towns and villages, pillaging Muslim property along the way while government troops looked the other way. The threat to personal safety for Sri Lanka’s two million Muslims remains ongoing, with the government making no apparently solid effort to curb the violence against the Muslim minority.

Earning an honest living

Would anyone living under such oppressive conditions be faulted for trying to escape such terrorism and hope to land someday in the US? A country, which, for the most part, allows an individual to live his or her life based on performance rather than on race or religion? Yes indeed, that is why the beacon of liberty beckons the tired and the helpless, the poor and the oppressed.

But not all immigrants escape external dangers or threats. Some simply arrive in the US to improve their lot in life or to challenge their skills by learning more. Others who have studied there have opted for the simpler ways of life than what they left behind in their home countries. And yet there are some more who simply want to escape the confines of social and traditional bindings in their countries and move to an unfettered society.

Indeed, the US is seen as a beacon of hope and one that should remain so. Extinguishing that would be tragic for many outside looking in.

— Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena