There come those moments in everyone’s life that you envision sharing with your family. Weddings, the birth of your children and other milestone moments in our lives are ones you always dream of celebrating with those closest to you.
Embracing one another in moments of joy, comforting one another in moments of sorrow, but most of all being there regardless of whether the sun is shining brightly or the rain is pouring down. That is the amazing thing about family — you get to be there for one another through it all.
Over the years, my grandmother, cousins, uncles and aunts on my father’s side of the family, who live in Iran, have missed out on all these occasions, having to settle for pictures or video clips that generally don’t do justice to these milestone moments.
We had hope that even though they missed the opportunity to attend my wedding and be there for the birth of my children, they might finally be able to join us last summer for my brother Johan’s wedding.
We had hope that another momentous occasion would not pass without the smiles and laughs of my dear grandma Zahra, who has been blessed to live long enough to see my brothers and me grow from boys into men. We had hope that we would finally make memories of a lifetime, together, as a family, like any other American family would.
That hope was destroyed shortly after President Trump started issuing one unconstitutional Muslim ban after another. Each time courts would block one — because they clearly violated the Constitution and infringed on Americans’ constitutional rights — another ban was issued.
In January, I joined several other American Muslims in suing Donald Trump because I’m one of millions of American Muslim citizens who were born and raised in America and who would personally be harmed by Trump’s unjustifiably narrow interpretation of “close familial relationship.” My family and I have close familial relationships with relatives who wish to visit us but would be banned from doing so under the Muslim bans, which are still in effect.
Like millions of American Muslims, I am a proud American and believe in the promise of America. With the support of my wife Victoria, I work every day to do what I can to defend and uphold the Constitution, so that the promise of America remains true for my sons.
It was in defense of the Constitution that I joined numerous Americans in urging the Supreme Court to stop the Muslim bans and restore one of the most sacred of American values that is engraved in the First Amendment: the right to freedom of religion and the promise that our government will not and cannot discriminate against its people on the basis of their religious practices.
By striking down the ban, the Supreme Court will help ensure that the promise of the Constitution will remain true for future generation of Americans.
Soltani is executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, and raised in Edmond, he lives in Oklahoma City.