Residents bring flowers, protest travel ban outside of Columbia mosque

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COLUMBIA - Hundreds of people gathered Sunday in a show of solidarity with the Muslim community after President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting immigration from Muslim countries. 

People gathered for the protest at Peace Park and marched to the Islamic Center to drop off yellow flowers on the steps of the mosque.

Kelly Macnevin with COMO for Progress said it was her idea to leave the flowers on the steps of the mosque to let the Muslim community know it's not alone.  

"They belong, we're immigrants. Every single one of us are immigrants, and a lot of us are from refugee families," Macnevin said. "I want them to know that they belong in our city and our country." 

Members of the Muslim community also came to the march. MU professor and member of the Islamic Center Jamil Al Wekhian said he came to show solidarity with fellow Muslims in Columbia and across the nation.

"It means a lot. I'm just so touched and it's just heartfelt with this solidarity and this support," Al Wekhian said. "It gives me faith in humanity and it gives me faith in the U.S. as well."

Another member of the mosque who was at the march, Rasha Abousalem, had just returned from working with refugees in other countries around the world. Abousalem said the ban was only part of the reason she was there. 

"This isn't simply about Muslims or about what has been banned," Abousalem said. "This is about America and what this country stands for, and this is no longer looking like the America we've been proud to call home."              

Some people at the march said they were there protesting Trump, as well. Columbia resident Zorina Pina-Hauan said she believes the immigration ban goes against the U.S. Constitution. 

"I think what's happening unconstitutional. I am frightened for the world," Pina-Hauan said. "I am concerned with all the executive orders are being passed. I feel like there isn't a lot of thought put into it for what the present issues could be and future issues could be with these new laws being passed."

Another protester, Sylvia Remington, said she attended the march not only because she believed in the cause, but also because it was her right. 

"The Constitution says we have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble peacefully," Remington said. "I'm trying to do that."

However, Kate Canterbury of COMO for Progress said the march was really about making sure everyone knows they belong.

"We want to show our neighbors and our community, you know the people that live here with us in Columbia that everyone is welcome here," Canterbury said. "Everyone that is an American is one regardless of their religion or what they look like."