Over the weekend Sir Mo Farah took to Facebook to share an impassioned response to US President Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration policy. The ‘Muslim Ban’ as many are referring to it, bans people from over seven Muslim majority countries travelling to America, of which Somalia (Farah’s birthplace) is one.
The 32-year old 4-time Olympic gold medallist is currently training at altitude in Ethiopia, Somalia in preparation for the August World Championships in London. The Olympic hero moved from Ethiopia to England when he was 8 years old and now lives with his family in Portland, Oregon where he is part of the Nike Oregon Project under coach Alberto Salazar. Nike are yet to comment on the situation.
The full statement reads:
“On 1st January this year, Her Majesty The Queen made me a Knight of the Realm. On 27th January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien.
I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years - working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home. Now, me and many others like me are being told that we may not be welcome.
It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home - to explain why the President has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice.
I was welcomed into Britain from Somalia at eight years old and given the chance to succeed and realise my dreams. I have been proud to represent my country, win medals for the British people and receive the greatest honour of a knighthood.
My story is an example of what can happen when you follow polices of compassion and understanding, not hate and isolation.”
The statement has garnered much support, with over 243,805 shares from runners and fans alike. Whilst there has been some negative responses, the reaction has been mostly positive and supportive of the defiant sentiment Farah expressed in his post. One Facebook user, Sarah Brown, commented, “You have made me proud to be British on many an occasion. I hope we can make you proud of us by standing up against this great wrong being done to so many.”
The celebrated athlete’s comments has further intensified public anger towards Trump, especially with Prime Minister Theresa May’s refusal to condemn the ban. Labour opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his disapproval on the situtaion.
After lobbying from British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, The White House has since clarified that British dual citizens will not be denied entry to the US unless travelling directly from the banned countries. Although this means Sir Mo should not be prohibited from re-joining his family, a spokesperson reiterated Mo’s disapproval of the “incredibly divisive and discriminatory policy,” which he “fundamentally disagrees with.”
A spokeswoman for Sir Mo said: “We understand from the statement released this evening by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office that the executive order will not apply to Mo, and we are grateful to the FCO for urgently clarifying the situation.”
"Mo is relieved that he will be able to return to his family once his current training camp concludes."
So what does this mean for the runner and the wider sporting community? NBA players Luol Deng and Thon Maker who are originally from South Sudan are at risk of not being able to travel to, from and within America, their home since 2011.
Many other well-known sports stars have publicly come out against the ban including retired NBA star Steve Nash, UFC fighter Ronda Rousey and Olympic fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad, who was the first ever Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab whilst competing in the Olympics.
During her stateside trip to meet newly elected President Trump, Theresa May revealed that Trump received and accepted an invitation from the Queen for a State Visit later this year. An online petition has since been launched, calling the British government to rescind this offer; as of this morning it surpassed 1 million signatures.
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