Sunday, January 29, 2017

CUNY grad student Saira Rafiee has been denied entry back into the United States from Iran. Please take a moment to call CUNY Chancellor Milliken at (646) 664-9100 and PSC-CUNY at (212) 354-1252 and demand that they take action immediately on Saira's behalf. If you can't get through to the PSC, email Barbara Bowen at


I, Saira Rafiee, Ph.D. student of political science at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, was among god knows how many citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen that have been denied entry to the US. I was on a vacation, going back to my country to see my loved ones, like many other students. I was about to check in at the airport, when Donald Trump signed the EO, banning people from the above-mentioned countries from entering the US. I got on the flight to Abu Dhabi, but there at the airport was told that I would not be able to enter the US. I had to stay there for nearly 18 hours, along with 11 other Iranians, before getting on the flight back to Tehran. I have no clue whether I would ever be able to go back to the school I like so much, or to see my dear friends there. But my story isn’t as painful and terrifying as many other stories I have heard these days. I know an Iranian student in the US, who was planning to go back to Iran to see her sister who has cancer probably for the last time, but had to cancel her trip because of this order. A dear friend of mine, a Columbia Ph.D. student, went to Canada on Friday to be with his fiancĂ©e for the weekend, and is not able to go back to his studies and work, back to his scholarly life. I know many students who are outside the US, doing fieldwork for their dissertation, and have no clue whether they can finish their studies after studying for many years. And these stories are not even close in painfulness and horror to those of the people who are fleeing war and disastrous situations in their home countries.

The sufferings of all of us are just one side of this horrendous order. The other side is the struggle against racism and fascism, against assaults on freedom and human dignity, against all the values that even though are far from being realized, are the only things that would make life worth living. As a student of sociology and political science, I have devoted a major part of my scholarly life to the study of authoritarianism. The media has published enough statistics during the past few days to show how irrelevant this order is to the fight against terrorism. It is time to call things by their true names; this is Islamophobia, racism, fascism. We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world.

I want to thank all my dear comrades, classmates and professors at the Graduate Center, who have been following my situation since yesterday and have spent a great deal of time to help me and many others in the same conditions. This is a fight for all of us, and I am sure the people, united, will never be defeated.

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