Aspiring medical student organizes march in Des Moines against Trump’s travel ban

Nik Heftman; ;

Since Friday, protesters from coast to coast have taken the nation by storm in an uproar against President Donald Trump’s travel ban against seven Muslim majority nations.

Signed Friday, Trump’s executive order bans travel from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Green card holders from said countries are not permitted to enter the United States.

“I am one of the people affected by this executive order,” said Nadia Ali, West Des Moines resident. “It’s unconstitutional, and it goes against everything the U.S. stands for.”

In response to the travel ban, Ali and her colleagues have organized a march in Des Moines to take place Thursday evening in solidarity with individuals affected by the executive order.

Ali was born in Sudan. Her father, who worked for the Sudanese government at the time, moved her family to Egypt as a result of civil conflicts. Her family would eventually migrate to West Des Moines.

Since her family’s migration to the states 14 years ago, Ali has taken a public stance on several social socials, having participated in several Black Lives Matter marches throughout Iowa. Ali also marched with thousands in the Women’s March in Des Moines on Jan. 21. 

“I’m very active on social media and online in general,” Ali said. “Sometimes, it’s a lot easier to organize online.”

Ali’s online advocacy has seen success in the past. She posted the initial release of the march in Des Moines on Facebook, inviting over 5,000 individuals to join. Ali expects 1,000 participants to attend Thursday night.

“This is my first time trying to organize a huge march like this,” Ali said. “The numbers are still growing. I am almost overwhelmed.”

Ali began advocating on social media during the Arab Spring, a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in early 2011. By then, Ali had already achieved a steady online following. She had friends who lived in Egypt during the uprisings.

“They would send me pictures and ask me to share them with the world,” Ali said.

Since the uprisings, Ali has connected with many activists via social media. A Simpson College alumna, Ali had to balance her activism with studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). She’ll be looking to attend medical school in fall 2017. 

Ali said legislation like Trump’s order encourages violences against Muslims. 

“I want to give my community a voice,” Ali said. “I wish to go back to my country and visit. The executive order is harmful. It’s not going to make the United States any safer.” 

The march will begin at 5 p.m. at the capitol building in Des Moines.