Amr Alfiqy on Covering the Protests at JFK’s Terminal 4
“On January 28, I was interviewing Fahd Ahmed, a Pakistani American and Executive Director of Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM), who arrived to the US at the age of 11. I asked him how he felt about Trump’s latest Executive Order, which has detained immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries at the John F. Kennedy airport and other around the country. From my name, accent, and the tone of my skin, Fahd probably assumed I was also a Muslim immigrant. Confirming it [Amr is from Egypt], he asked me the same question, “Well, you tell me. How do you feel?”
Before heading to JFK to document the protests that were breaking out at Terminal 4 in solidarity with the detained immigrants and affected visa holders, so many questions and worries ran through my mind. I felt so connected to each of the impacted immigrants, knowing how real this executive order is to so many around me. I forced myself to focus on doing my job - to objectively report on and document the unfolding events. But there was this constant nagging fear that anything could happen to me at the airport, by Homeland Security or Customs and Border Protection.
On my first day in the US, October 15, 2014, I was detained and questioned at Terminal 4 for being the only Muslim visa-holder on my plane. These aggressions against Muslim immigrants are as old as the September 11 attacks, when the profiling of Muslims skyrocketed. But now, and with the rise of hateful and racist speech directly impacting policy, it is getting worse for the immigrants here, and for our families in our home countries. The possibility that many families will be torn apart because of irresponsible and unconstitutional executive orders becomes more and more real. We are the real-life statistics of these actions.”
- By Magnum Foundation intern, Amr Alfiqy, who was on assignment for TIME and TIME LightBox this past weekend at JFK.