Mo Farah, a runner who was knighted after becoming the most successful track athlete in Britain’s Olympic history, condemned the executive order banning people from certain Muslim-majority countries, saying that “President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien.”
The president signed the order on Friday, and it immediately triggered chaos and uncertainty at American airports. On Saturday night, judicial rulings in several cities blocked enforcement of the ban to various degrees, but the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement early Sunday in which it said it would continue to enforce the president’s action.
Refugees, migrants and even green-card holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are affected, and the order extends to those with dual citizenships. Farah, a British citizen who came from Mogadishu, Somalia, has lived in the United States for the past six years and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at the start of 2017.
Later Sunday, after his Facebook post gained considerable attention, travelers on British passports were advised that dual citizens were affected only if they were traveling to the United States from one of the seven banned countries.
“We understand from the statement released this evening by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the executive order will not apply to Mo, and we are grateful to the FCO for urgently clarifying the situation,” a spokesperson for Farah told the BBC. “Mo is relieved that he will be able to return to his family once his current training camp concludes. However, as he said in his earlier statement, he still fundamentally disagrees with this incredibly divisive and discriminatory policy.”
Farah — the 5,000- and 10,000-meter gold medalist in the London and Rio Olypmics — and his family live in Oregon, where he also trains. He presently is training in Ethiopia and wrote passionately on his Facebook page, saying he might have to tell his children “that Daddy might not be able to come home.”
“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 policies of compassion and understanding, not hate and isolation.”
Facebook reactions to Farah’s post were mixed. “Always welcome in the UK….you’re a fantastic man, and a great father, I don’t care what color, race or religion anyone is, we are ALL human, yes, there are bad people, but I have friends from different religions, love them ALL,” Nicci Hart wrote.
Antony Crowe wrote: “He hasn’t blanket banned every single Muslim in the entire world from entering America, so stop it with your whining propaganda. Next you’ll be telling us that every single Muslim is getting evicted too. The truth is, he’s tightening the immigration policies, like we should do in the UK.”
Farah, 33, moved to Portland with his family in 2011 to join the Nike Oregon Project, a distance training group coached by Alberto Salazar. Farah, who does not hold a Somali passport, is not scheduled to return to Oregon until March and Salazar had no comment when reached by The Oregonian
Mark Parker, the chief executive of Nike, which sponsors Farah, issued a statement Sunday night condemning Trump’s executive order and supporting Farah.
“What Mo will always have — what the entire Nike family can always count on — is the support of this company,” Parker said in the statement. “. . . Now, more than ever, let’s stand up for our values and remain open and inclusive as a brand and as a company.”
Farah made headlines when, during the Rio Olympics, he fell during the 10,000, got up and went on to win.
Mo Farah was one of countless people around the world whose lives were thrown into uncertainty this weekend by President Trump’s executive order banning refugees, migrants and others from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.