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Omar Sharif Jr. hits out at Trump’s ‘devastating’ travel ban

By Darren Mew

Egyptian actor and LGBT rights activist Omar Sharif Jr. has hit out at US President Donald Trump’s newly-implemented US travel ban.

The grandson of legendary Egyptian actors Omar Sharif and Faten Hamama, who was forced to leave his native Egypt for the US when he came out as gay in 2012, has voiced his dismay at the ban on citizens travelling from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as all refugees currently seeking settlement in the US.

Speaking exclusively to Attitude, the 33-year-old described the ban, which is already being challenged in the US federal court system, as “highly distressing – in particular for those seeking refuge from discrimination, hatred and warfare.”

He continued: “While physically, many might not make it to safety after years of patiently waiting; psychologically, hopes will be crushed and a sense of humanity will be lost.

“More often than not, when refugees flee it’s not with with their heads down in despair, but with their eyes looking upward for inspiration – not only to the stars, but to the Stars and Stripes.

“The US has always represented that beacon of light and freedom, of liberty and justice for all. For them, and for those like myself already landed with visas and green cards, learning that your safe-haven might now be a little less safe – a little less welcoming – is absolutely devastating.”

Related: Interview | Omar Sharif Jr. on being a role model for the Arab LGBT community

Trump’s ban on citizens travelling from Iran, Syria, Somalia, the Sudan, Libya and the Yemen has drawn global condemnation, while organisations such as OutRight Action International and the Human Rights Campaign have suggesting that the ban on refugees could equal a death sentence for many LGBT people currently attempting to flee persecution because of their sexuality.

Sharif Jr., who received an Attitude Inspiration Award last year for his LGBT activism, has previously urged those in the West to “not demonise” Muslims escaping persecution in their native countries.

“A lot of the refugees who are fleeing [the Middle East] are LGBT and they’re fleeing intolerance and persecution,” he said at the Attitude Awards last October. “They’re fleeing for their lives. And so we need to be more welcoming to refugees, and not falsely correlate all Islam with terrorism.”

He added: “We’re more than just facts and figures, moral and ethical debates. We’re brothers and sisters, neighbours.”

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