Hundreds of Loudoun Students ‘Walk Out’ in Support of Immigrants

After watching the confusion and fear that followed President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, Rida Ali felt the need to do something.

The 16-year-old Ashburn resident is a first generation American. Her mother is from Yemen and her father from Pakistan. She took to Twitter and suggested to a few of her friends that they plan a “walk out,” to leave class for 10-15 minutes to make a statement about how empty the school—the nation, really—would be without immigrants or descendants of immigrants.

What she didn’t expect was that hundreds of students would join her on campuses throughout Loudoun County. “It spread so far,” she said. “I had no idea that any other school was going to do this.”

Walk outs were reported this afternoon at least eight Loudoun County high schools. Four of the largest demonstrations took place at Briar Woods, Rock Ridge, Potomac Falls and Broad Run, where Ali is a junior. The school system reported that, in total, 619 students participated in the walk out.

Despite Friday’s near freezing temps, Ali, in her hijab, led about 90 of her classmates out of the school just before 2:30 p.m. She had instructed them not to chant, but to silently sit on the sidewalk. About a dozen held signs with pro-immigration messages, like “My country is built by immigrants,” and several waved American flags.

Broad Run High School senior Vinnie Sack. [Danielle Nadler/Loudoun Now]
Ali stood in front of her peers and several flashing news cameras and said, “I organized this walk out not because I wanted to protest anything. It’s not because I wanted to make a political statement. Not because I wanted to disrupt class time. I organized this because I think it’s time to come together and outline the importance of diversity and immigration in our country.”

She told the students that most U.S. citizens are, really, immigrants or descendants of immigrants. “At one point, one of our family members came to this country. It’s not an opinion, it’s not political. It’s a fact,” she said.

Her comments received loud applause from the students and cheers from about six adults who stood in the distance. They said they attended to show their support for the walk out. Kartar and Shakta Khalsa, who drove from Sterling to the Ashburn school, said they’ve been encouraged by people’s willingness to voice their opposition to the new president.

“I support what they’re doing. It’s happening on every level everywhere,” Kartar Khalsa said. “I think this is what democracy looks like.”

[See a photo gallery of the walk out here.]

One Broad Run student held a small counter demonstration. Wearing an iconic red Trump campaign hat, Vinnie Sack, 18, held a sign that read “Respect our president – Go back to school.” He said he was friends with many of the students who took part in the walk out. “They have an opinion and get to stand up for what they believe in, and so do I,” he added. He explained that he’s had different life experiences than many of his classmates and those have shaped his world view, his family, and his political views.

After Ali’s brief comments, she gathered the students for a large group photo. Then she asked them to all return to class, which they did.

Public Information Officer Wayde Byard said principals were instructed to tell students that there would be consequences for leaving school early, in line with punishments typically given for tardies, absences and/or leaving school without permission.

Woodgrove High School students were warned by Principal Sam Shipp this morning that any one who participated in the walk out would face disciplinary action. Specifically, he said they would preclude students from being involved in athletics or any other school activity.

The president’s executive order barring refugees and citizens from the seven countries has been temporary blocked by a federal district judge. A federal appeals court voted 3-0 Thursday to uphold that decision.

Students at high schools throughout Loudoun County held a “walk out” to show their support for immigrants. [Danielle Nadler/Loudoun Now]
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6 thoughts on “Hundreds of Loudoun Students ‘Walk Out’ in Support of Immigrants

  • 2017-02-10 at 5:34 pm

    It would be nice if these students realized that the world is a dangerous place and the countries where the US has attempted to temporarily restrict movement from are unstable and are the source of a significant amount of heinous acts committed in these regions. I’d love to see them speak about the atrocities committed in these countries to women and gays in the name of Islam. If they have any doubt about how some of these people feel toward America, check this out:

  • 2017-02-11 at 12:23 am

    Interesting point loco wonders. Or maybe one of the “informed” protestors could shed some light on the following stats:

    Part of the requirement to immigrate to the US is to believe in and uphold the US Constitution. Citizens don’t have such a requirement but those are the perks of being a born citizen. To join this country based on ideas, you actually need to believe in the ideas of the country.

    So let’s look to see whether this “outrage” is justified. Pew and other organizations have consistently taken polls of the Muslim world on public policy issues. While most of the 7 countries in the EO were not broken out, the general beliefs and specifically those of Iraq as one of the 7 countries are particularly informative:

    BBC poll

    Pew poll

    1. 24% of British Muslims disagree with that violence against those who publish images of Mohammed can never be justified. 1 in 4 British Muslims have sympathy for those behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. This was taken soon after those attacks. (BBC poll)

    2. 45% of British Mulsims disagree that Muslim clerics preaching violence against the West can be justified are out of touch with mainstream Muslim opinion. (BBC poll)

    3. 38% of Iraqis believe Sharia should apply to all citizens regardless of their faith (Pew p4)

    4. Of those who support Sharia as the law of the land, 58% of Iraqis and 81% of Egyptians favor stoning as the penalty for adultry. (Pew p4)

    5. Of those who support Sharia as the law of the land, 42% of Iraqis and 86% of Egyptians favor the death penalty for converting from Islam. (Pew p4)

    6. 46% of Iraqis support (18% against) polygamy. In Eqypt the numbers are 41% for and 8% against. (Pew p6)

    7. In Iraq, 60% say honor killings of women are often or sometimes justified. (Pew p6)

    8. Less than half of both Iraqis and Egyptians believe it should be up to women to decide if they want to wear a veil. (Pew p7)

    9. At least 85% of both Iraqis and Egyptians believe women should always obey their husbands. (Pew p7)

    10. Only 14% of Iraqis and 22% of Egyptians believe women should have the right to divorce their husbands. (Pew p7)

    11. Less than 5% of Iraqis and Egyptians are comfortable with their daughters marrying a Christian. (Pew p7)

    So the question is why should we let folks who don’t believe in the Constitution’s values become American citizens and then change our values? And why aren’t these kids out protesting the horrific beliefs of the 7 countries whose immigration to the US has been restricted?

  • 2017-02-11 at 11:56 pm

    I see the clown car has arrived to remind everyone that the purpose of public schools is to turn out easily managed, obedient employees for corporations rather than citizens who actively participate in the democratic process.

    They also seem to believe that each individual entering this country is to be held responsible for the views and behaviors of the countries from which they came and that some kind of “suitability test” is required for them to be allowed into ours.

    They’d make terrible educators, so it’s a good thing they lurk here behind the cloak of comfortable anonymity instead.

    Those children could teach you a thing or two about respect.

    • 2017-02-12 at 1:45 pm

      Rdj holds himself out to be well-informed and an expert on what we should teach our kids. I guess lost in this world view is a responsibility to use well-reasoned arguments or any data to support his claims. In Rdj’s world view, whatever he says is intuitively obvious and shouldn’t be questioned.

      But let’s take a different track. Let’s use data to refute Rdj’s baseless claims that American Muslims’ views are completely different and innocent compared to those who haven’t yet entered the US (but many would like to).

      In a Pew poll, we find that (or see the detailed poll here:

      1. 21% of American Muslims (not Christians, atheists, or Hindus) believe there is a great deal or fair amount of support for extremism among Muslims living in the US.

      2. Almost half of American Muslims say that Muslim leaders have not done enough to speak out against extremists.

      3. By a 60%-35% margin, American Muslims are themselves concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism in the US.

      4. 8% of American Muslims say suicide bombings against civilians are often or sometimes justified. This is a higher percentage than the Muslims in Pakistan or Turkey!

      5. 5% have a favorable view of Al Quaeda! Even 11% are only “somewhat unfavorable”. Remember that will M’s of Muslims in the US, that means there are 10K’s or even 100K’s of American Muslims with a positive view of an extremist Islamic group that declared war on the US.

      6. 20% of American Muslims say they want to be distinct from the larger American society as opposed to assimilate.

      7. Half of American Muslims see themselves as Muslim first as opposed to American first or equally Muslim and American!

      8. Of course, Rdj and the Democrats want an influx of Muslims because by a 68-21% majority, they want to massively increase government.

      9. 10% of American Muslims believe Obama is a Muslim. (only 18% of the general public believed that so I wonder if Rdj will rail on these American Muslims who believe Obama is one of their own).

      10. American Muslims are 4x more likely (8% vs 2%) to believe women should not be allowed to work outside the home.

      11. 27% of American Muslims say men are better political leaders vs only 4% who say the same about women. Among the general public, it was equally split 13-12%.

      In another poll by the Center for Security Policy:

      12. 51% of American Muslims felt they should have the ability to be governed by sharia law.

      13. Nearly a quarter felt it was ok to use violence against those who offend Islam such as by drawing cartoons of Muhammed.

      14. Nearly one fifth of American Muslims justified the use of violence to make sharia the law of the land.

      We realize why Rdj wants to let in untold number of Muslims without ensuring they believe in the actual US Constitution. They vote for Democrats about 80% of the time. He couldn’t care less about such immigrants being recruited for violence as long as the overwhelming majority help his political allies get back in power.

  • 2017-02-13 at 2:59 pm

    What’s so wrong with a ‘suitability test’ as you refer to it, Mr. RDJ? In all seven of the nation states (a stretch, I know) currently under the temporary travel ban, homosexuality is outlawed, and has been for quite some time. Homophobia is embedded not only in their laws, but cultures as well. In three of these states (Iran, Sudan, and Yemen) homosexuality is a positive death sentence.
    Iraq only changed their law on homosexuality after the American invasion. Regardless, in many areas of Iraq, Sharia judges ignore the revised law, and render judgements which never, ever turn out well for the accused.

    I’m sure you’ve seen a recent political map of Syria… hard to tell who’s who, is it not?

    None of the seven nation states are known for their women’s rights, much less women’s equality. Again, this is deeply rooted in their culture. Iran and Sudan (and too many others) still have ‘stoning’ on the books for women who commit adultery. More often than not, the ‘offenders’ are women who have reported being raped. In Pakistan, a young mother was stoned to death for the heinous crime of possessing mobile phone just a few years back.
    I encourage everyone to Google the name of “Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow.” This 13-year-old girl (13!) from Somalia (Yes… Somalia is on the temporary 90 day list folks) was gang raped. When she tried to speak up, she was led to a soccer stadium, and promptly stoned to death by 50 men, while thousands watched. Try watching a stoning; they’re on the internet and portrayed in movies. I know I can’t. It’s not in my cultural makeup.

    In Sudan (on the list), slavery: As in, real deal, no crap slavery, is not uncommon. It’s ‘cultural’ to them.

    This is America. We don’t let religion or archaic 12th century cultural norms spillover into our culture of freedom and equality. We have every right to question, and educate, anyone coming to our country that their old world hang ups shall never be instituted or tolerated, and they’d best get used to it. We have enough of our own folks to bring into the 21st century; we don’t need more people unwilling or unable to fully embrace American constitutional protections and cultural norms.

    To be sure Mr. RDJ, this list is just the tip of the iceberg — Some of the worst, but there are plenty of other “cultures” that should have their names on the list. If people want to live that way, then stay in their homophobic and misogynist countries. We’ve worked too hard to go backwards now.
    My grandparents caught the boat long ago to get away from the old-world crap. They never looked back. And neither is their grandson.

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