Photo by Aaron Ricca.
KINGMAN – The Kingman area’s small but active Muslim community has a message for people upset over President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban regarding seven predominantly Muslim countries: Get behind the President.
Abraham Dehaybi, owner of Kingman Fitness and Racquet Club, has been in Kingman since 1998 and, speaking on behalf of his fellow Muslims, said they feel Trump is doing his due-diligence to protect the country.
“We are made of cloths of different shapes, sizes and colors and we need a tailor,” he said. “We chose (Trump) to be our tailor.”
Dehaybi has spoken to other Muslims who feel that Trump is the nation’s leader and that they will comply with any laws passed under his administration.
“The sheep should not know more than the shepherd,” he said.
Furious debate rages over whether the measure will prevent potential terrorists from entering the country. Trump signed an executive order Friday barring entry to the U.S. of refugees and immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
Refugees are barred for 120 days and immigrants for 90 days until a better vetting program to weed out potential terrorists can be found. That ban affected green card and visa holders, some who were snatched up at airports nationwide immediately after the order was signed.
Trump Tweeted Wednesday, “Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a BAN. Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of country.”
Dehaybi was born in Lebanon (he declined to give his age), and at the age of 19 moved to California in the mid-1970s on a student visa to attend medical school. He graduated from California State University, Fresno, went to medical school in the Dominican Republic and came home with a doctorate degree, practicing medicine until taking over the fitness center.
He has four children, and thinks their protection is just as important as anyone else’s. He feels that Trump is taking the right steps to prevent potential terrorists from entering the U.S. and admitted he would alert authorities to anyone he felt may be a threat.
“The book should be thrown at those who cause problems,” he said.
Dehaybi said he does have friend and family members in Lebanon, but didn’t specify how they feel on the issue.
Kingman has a significant Muslim population, including Umar Farooq Mahmood, Imam at the Masjid-E-Ibrahim Mosque, who put The Miner in touch with Dehaybi. Mahmood moved to Kingman from Canada in 2009. The mosque has been the hub for meetings and worship for the local Muslim community since 1990. There’s no exact number on the local Muslim population, but Mahmood said there are roughly 22 Muslim families, some of whom have been here nearly 40 years.
Mahmood said he knows of no congregants from the barred nations or who have immediate ties to those directly affected, both overseas and here in the U.S. He and Dehaybi said most Kingman Muslims hail from Lebanon, Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt.
Dehaybi insisted that local Muslims want everyone to know Islam is a religion of peace and that there are fanatics in every corner of the world.
“The behavior of a few makes everyone panic,” he said.
Dehaybi channeled the thoughts of the Muslim community that Trump will ultimately keep the country safer through the temporary roadblock.
“We need to take a deep breath and relax,” he said. “There is going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.”