AFP Los Angeles
Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng, a Sudan-born NBA player who is now a British citizen, called himself a “proud refugee” Monday as he condemned US President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
Deng was born in Wau, which became part of South Sudan in 2011. After fleeing the region for Egypt, Deng became a British citizen in 2006, playing for Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.
“I am a proud refugee,” Deng in a statement posted on Twitter.
“I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the opportunity to find refuge in a safe harbour. For the people of South Sudan, refugee resettlement has saved countless lives, just as it has for families all over the world escaping the depths of despair.”
Deng stressed the struggles of refugees to simply survive and then escape the violence around them and urged people not to become numb to their suffering. “It’s important we remember to humanise the experience of others,” he wrote.
“Refugees overcome immeasurable odds, relocate across the globe, and work hard to make the best of their newfound home. Refugees are productive members of society that want for their family just as you want for yours.
“I stand by all refugees and migrants, of all religions, just as I stand by the policies that have historically welcomed them.”
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr spoke out strongly Sunday against the ban.
“If we’re trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, (we’re) really going against the principles of what our country is about, and creating fear,” said Kerr, whose father, Malcolm Kerr, was shot in 1984 while serving as president of the American University of Beirut.
“It’s the wrong way to go about it. If anything, we could be breeding anger and terror. I feel for all the people who have been affected. Families are being torn apart, and I worry in the big picture what this means to the security of the world.”
Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, in comments to The Detroit News, compared Trump’s ban to World War II moves such as US internment of people of Japanese heritage and Adolf Hitler’s extermination of Jews.
“It’s starting to get really, really scary,” Van Gundy said.
“Now we’re judging people by their religion — trying to keep Muslims out. We’re getting back to the days of putting the Japanese in relocation camps, of Hitler registering the Jews. That’s where we’re heading.”
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, a 30-year-old American, called the immigration ban “absolute bullshit.”
Raptors coach Dwane Casey, 59, recalled to CBS Sports growing up in racially segregated Kentucky and said Trump’s ban reminded him of Ku Klux Klan rallies.
“It’s scary because it kind of reminds you about what happened back in the ‘60s when I was growing up,” Casey said.
Ujiri calls it ‘ridiculous’
Raptors president Masai Ujiri, a native of Nigeria, was stunned by the ban.
“I think it’s just ridiculous,” Ujiri said. “I just don’t get it. This is mind-boggling. I’m a prime example of what opportunity is in this world.”
Ujiri vowed to continue global NBA youth outreach efforts.
“We had plans to do to a basketball camp in South Sudan. We have kids that come from all over the world. So what does that mean? That we’re lying to these kids when we say we’re giving them hope or teaching them or going to help them grow or give them opportunity? We’re outright lying to them now.”
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