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Huge crowd fills Muslim Educational Trust Center for Wednesday rally

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Mayors from Beaverton, Portland and Hillsboro spoke out against President Trump's travel ban on nationals of several predominantly Muslim countries.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - An estimated crowd of 1,500 people crammed into the Muslim Educational Trust Center on Wednesday for a forum responding to the president's Middle Eastern travel ban. An estimated crowd of 1,500 attendees packed every inch of the Muslim Educational Trust Center on Wednesday evening for an emergency forum to discuss President Trump's executive order on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Along with representatives from numerous Portland metro area congregations were politicians, police chiefs, attorneys and other speakers from Beaverton, Tigard, Hillsboro, Portland and Multnomah County — all in opposition of Trump's executive order that placed a temporary ban on new immigrants and visa-holding visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Many refugees who fled to Oregon in the last 10 years came from the Middle East.

The MET forum, called "Understanding Justice and Equality for All Through the Strength of Law and Compassion," drew a capacity crowd that included Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, who confirmed his commitment to making Beaverton a welcoming and inclusive community that nurtures all people.

He referred to Trump's Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 as "the day the music died."

"This is a point in history for the best country in the world to say this is a new chapter," Doyle said. "It is our turn to make new music. We are on fire to correct the corrupt situations we have right now."

Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway mirrored Doyle's sentiments.

"I have been worried about my country since Nov. 8," he said.

Callaway quoted former President Bill Clinton: "There's nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America."

Callaway said he walked in the Jan. 21 Portland Women's March with his wife, daughter, and sister-in-law to take a stand for what is right with America.

He said, "My 90-year-old mom called me and said 'Steven, I am proud of you.'"

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler received a standing ovation for his spirited speech, which concluded with him saying, "I am standing with you today because it's the right thing to do."

Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman also received a standing ovation from the crowd after he spoke about the importance of community.

"This uniform is a symbol of fear to a lot of people in the United States — the uniform, gun and badge. I want it to be a symbol of safety," Marshman said.

Beaverton Police Chief Jim Monger, who attended the forum, but didn't act as a speaker, stood in solidarity with the speakers, said "people fear what they don't know. We need to get to know each other and eliminate that fear."

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici sent a representative from her office, as she was in Washington, D.C., who said, "We will not let fear dictate public policy."

The event began at 6:30 p.m. and concluded at about 10 p.m. More forums are being planned and scheduled in the Portland metro area.

Beaverton student and volunteer Mohammed Zaid, 25, whose family is split between the United States and Yemen, complimented the diverse panel of participants.

"Everything went perfect," said Zaid. "Everyone was prepared to answer questions."

A panel hosted a question-and answer session, where two eighth-graders expressed fear and concern. The eighth-grade girl asked the panel, "Can we wear our hijab or will that be taken away from us?" She was assured she could still wear her hijab and that the ACLU is involved in women's rights to wear the hijab.

Oregon United States Attorney General Bill Williams also told the girl, "We prosecute federal hate crimes – the FBI works with us."

Panelists recommended people with visas not leave the country, get plugged into a community organization, give to the ACLU, and write a letter with a pen to members of Congress.

U.S. District Judge James L. Robart on Feb. 3 issued a ruling temporarily blocking the enforcement of President Trump's executive order barring entry to the United States for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees.

Trump's executive order was signed on Friday. The acting U.S. attorney general, Sally Yates, announced that her office would not defend the executive order and, on Monday, Trump fired her.

Also this week, nearly 1,000 U.S. diplomats signed onto a dissent memo that opposed the executive order.

On Wednesday, fifty American Civil Liberties Union affiliates filed 18 coordinated Freedom of Information Act requests with local U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices to begin the process of fighting the executive order.