In January of 2017, newly inaugurated President Trump enacted his first travel ban, which prohibited the residents of several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The American public outcry was swift, large, and loud, with protests erupting immediately at airports nationwide. Columbus, Ohio, which has a large Muslim population, was no exception. On a bitterly cold afternoon, hundreds of people, many of them Muslim, gathered near the city’s John Glenn International Airport and marched to the main terminal, where they held a rally against Islamophobia.
The sounds of the protest are deeply symbolic. At the outset, one hears movement: the sounds of participants walking, the roar of jet engines, and the rhyme and meter of protest chants, such as: “No ban, no reg-is-try, no white su-prem-a-cy.” But as protesters reach the airport terminal, the sonic experience changes drastically. Individual voices merge into an undulating, encompassing soundscape, into waves of sound that ricochet off of concrete barriers and drown out all other noise. Fittingly, this protest against religious immobility evokes the sense of being trapped.
And yet, there is also something reassuring about this sea of voices. Within these concrete confines, protesters’ individual voices combine to form a powerful, communal one, a unified statement against bigotry and Islamophobia. One senses a communal energy and growing resistance that cannot be quelled.