If President Donald Trump’s travel ban wasn’t bad enough, it just got worse. According to The Washington Post, passengers traveling from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa will be banned from carrying electronics, including cameras, iPads, tablets, laptops and other portable devices on international flights to the United States. In simpler terms, the U.S. is continuing to wield the false narrative that passengers flying from these countries are potential terrorists.
*Update: The Department of Homeland Security released this Q&A about the new restrictions.
The airports that will be affected by these new restrictions will be Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) in Jordan, Cairo International Airport (CAI) in Egypt, Ataturk International Airport (IST) in Turkey, King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) and King Khalid International Airport (RUH) in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait International Airport (KWI) in Kuwait, Mohammed V International Airport (CMN) in Morocco, Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Qatar, and Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in the United Arab Emirates. Those traveling from these 10 Middle Eastern airports will have to put all electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smartphone into their checked luggage. This, of course, does not affect U.S. airlines, as none of them offer direct flights from these airports.
On March 21, the United Kingdom announced they will be joining the United States in the electronic ban of Muslim flights coming to their country, according to CNN. The ban will affect the following airports: British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson, Turkish Airlines, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air, and Saudia. This is interesting considering the UK has taken a strong stance against Donald Trump in the past year. What happened to the Anti-Trump petition that reached one million signatures in an effort to keep him out of the country and away from the royal family? Let me ask you, John Bercow, speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, did you forget your “vow” to keep President Trump from speaking in front of the Parliament during his state visit later in the year? It seems the travel ban has more of an underlying “appeal” to both the U.S. and the UK, which is keeping “Muslim terrorists” out of the country.
The main objective of the ban restrictions is to prevent possible terrorist attacks on the U.S., and according to the Post article, the reasoning behind banning electronics specifically is the idea that a potential terrorist could hide an explosive inside one of the prohibited devices. These assumptions are nothing new; post-9/11 rhetoric and fears of ISIS have created the idea that Muslims are the enemy. Donald Trump said he is calling for “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” leaving those of Muslim descent already living in the U.S. feeling marginalized and dehumanized. What these Western and European nations have yet to understand, however, is that the actions of one group does not represent the entire Muslim culture. Also, out of the nine Islamic terrorist attacks that have happened on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, eight of the terrorists were American, and zero of them were refugees. According to this video from The Washington Post, Trump is not banning countries who have targeted the United States.
So what happens now? Well, in terms of the photography world, photographers flying from these countries to the US will still have their cameras and electronic devices, but they will not be able to have them on the plane with them. This could lead to the destruction of cameras and equipment to break, if luggage is thrown around carelessly, whereas if they were allowed on board, passengers wouldn’t have to worry about it being damaged. Other scenarios were discussed on Reddit, and users suggested the electronics ban would increase the risk of theft in the baggage check area. The Transportation Security Administration, TSA, has the power to look through your stuff and take out whatever they feel might be “dangerous.” The TSA is also known for numerous racial profiling incidents, so those of Muslim backgrounds may be susceptible to unnecessary bag checks. Overall, the majority of the commenters agreed the restrictions will do more harm than good, and they are “unnecessary and ineffectual.”
*Update: The Washington Post published an article on March 22 presenting a different side to the ban restrictions. Although it looks like a ban targeting Islam, it may not just be that specifically. The Post offered an alternative reason to why Trump would add restrictions to this ban. It’s not about the United States’ security, but retaliation against three airlines: Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. These Middle Eastern airlines have been accused by the U.S. competitors of receiving subsidies from their governments. The restrictions are attacking these “hub airports” – this means their economic success and large savings of money is possible because of their ability to serve as airports for passengers transferring flights. The three airlines receive a lot of business from first and business class fliers, and with these new restrictions, they may lose these costumers because they can’t use their electronics flying from these hubs. Basically, this article is implying that the Trump administration wants more business and money to go to the American airlines.
In any case, the whole travel ban and these restrictions is a complete mess. Both the U.S. and the UK have become promoters of islamophobia, and this is not the first time we’re seeing this. However, its has become more prominent this year, and further proves how the Trump administration has manipulated other countries into following this hateful, damaging rhetoric.