HARLEM — A Harlem imam urged his congregation to “stay away from crime and violations” and to “find a solution” in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Souleimane Konaté, the imam of the Masjid al-Aqsa mosque at East 115th Street, spoke to dozens of congregants at a Friday prayer session, which also doubled as a Know Your Rights workshop.
Trump's executive order, which took effect on Jan. 27, prevents immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen entering the country and may hinder the visa application process for others.
Konate said there is an intense anxiety among Muslims, particularly those in his congregation.
He works largely with African immigrants and his congregation serves roughly 800 to 1,000 people.
With three of the seven countries in Africa, he said a large part of his worshippers are affected.
But he said those with ties outside of the listed countries have also expressed trepidation.
“They are afraid to travel, even the people who are not from those countries,” he said.
“There’s a fear. People are afraid to talk about it.”
Although the administration has said it is not explicitly called a ban on Muslims, Konate believes it is.
“This is all about Muslims,” he said. “If you’re after one of us, you’re after all of us.”
Iman Boukadoum, an attorney with The Association of Muslim American Lawyers, led a session urging the community not to travel to the listed countries or have their families in those countries travel here, even if they have visas or green cards.
“The community is terrified,” she said.
Djamel Ariouat, 37, a Muslim taxi driver from Woodside, called at the ban “inhumane.”
He said he plans to be more vocal in protest of the administration’s policy.
“I have to support human rights and my community,” he said. “Today it could be Muslims, tomorrow it could be Christians or Jews.”
Konate urged the community at the Mosque to show solidarity by joining in with protesters who are marching against the ban and pressing their elected officials.
“We must claim our rights,” he said. “We are Americans, papers or no papers.
“To win this, let’s come together as one.”