ROCKLAND, Maine — A roller derby tournament in midcoast Maine could be affected by President Donald Trump’s recent executive action temporarily banning admittance of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
A team from Sweden was expected to decide Friday whether it should cancel its planned trip to Maine this summer because one of its members is an Iranian citizen.
The Rock Coast Rollers is slated to hold its third-annual Coastal Chaos tournament in Rockland in early June, and seven other teams have been invited to participate, including the Swedish Gothenburg Roller Derby team — the only overseas team participating in the event.
Dorna Behdadi said Friday in a Skype interview that their team has been really excited to come to Maine “because we’ve never been to the U.S. for a tournament before.”
But those plans were thrown into question last week after Trump signed his order, which refuses access to citizens and refugees from Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iran, the last of which considers Behdadi one of its citizens.
Behdadi, a 28-year-old doctorate student studying ethics at the University of Gothenburg, has never even been to Iran. Behdadi’s parents are from the Middle Eastern country, making Behdadi’s citizenship with Iran automatic.
Interpretations of Trump’s order have been difficult to follow. At first it appeared that dual citizens and green card holders would not be allowed to travel to the U.S., under guidance from the Trump administration. In the days since, it has been made more clear that dual nationals should ostensibly be permitted to enter if they present a passport from a country that isn’t one of the seven on Trump’s list.
But Behdadi, who feels blatantly unwelcome, doesn’t want to risk it. The Gothenburg team supports Behdadi’s stance on not making the trip.
In a Facebook post earlier this week, the Gothenburg Roller Derby team condemned the executive order and its “racist regulations,” vowing that if Behdadi and others couldn’t attend, neither would they.
“Sports should be for everyone to participate in. Roller derby is an inclusive sport, and we will never accept discrimination on the basis of race, religion or citizenship,” the post read.
The Rock Coast Rollers has publicly supported Behdadi and the Gothenburg team’s position.
“The sport of roller derby is known to be, and prides itself on, its inclusion and celebration of women of all sizes, ages, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, nationality and ethnicity,” the Rockland team said in a statement emailed to the Bangor Daily News. “The current ban places on individuals from majority Muslim countries sadly runs counter to what roller derby and the Rock Coast Rollers stand for.”
Behdadi, who has several American friends, said they are “outraged” by the order, but “clearly there a lot of people in the U.S. that at least partly agree with decisions like this.”
“I think it’s important to recognize how, in different ways, people are affected by this ban,” Behdadi said, and even more important to “remember all the people who really need to enter the U.S. or who need to leave and come back.”
The thing is, the Swedish skater added, “roller derby is my life, but it’s still just a hobby. Even though I can’t go to this tournament, it’s a big deal for me, but it’s not a big deal objectively.”
For “people who are fleeing and people who can’t be united with their families,” Behdadi said, this order has very real consequences.