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‘They’re people, not terrorists’: Toronto photographer challenges Trump’s travel ban through portraits

‘They’re people, not terrorists’: Toronto photographer challenges Trump’s travel ban through portraits

Be First!
by March 7, 2017 News, Photographers, Photos

When US President Donald Trump announced his controversial travel ban, the impact was immediate: travelers from 7 Muslim-majority countries suddenly found themselves in a state of limbo, banned from entering the US even if they had valid visas. Lawyers camped out at airports, offering legal assistance to those affected. Protests swept US cities, outraged at the widespread impact of the travel ban.

Toronto-based photographer Adam Zivo shared the outrage, and felt compelled to make a stand in the best way he can: through his skills as a photographer. He created the social media campaign They’re People, Not Terrorists to humanize the different nationalities whose lives would be profoundly affected by the ban.

This isn’t the first time Zivo has worked on a campaign in response to current issues. Following the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida last June 2016, Zivo created the #LOVEISLOVEISLOVE campaign, which featured happy photos of LGBTQ couples.

For this campaign, Zivo took photos of people from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Each featured smiling subjects, with text that read “They’re people, not terrorists” and the hashtag #NoBanNoWall.


Zivo has made the photos publicly available, to encourage people to share the photos and for organizations to use them to fight Islamophobia.

In an interview with, Zivo explains that he was prompted to work on the campaign after reading about a friend’s dilemma – about whether staying to finish his degree in the US meant he would be “functionally imprisoned” because there was no guarantee that he would be allowed back in if he left to see his family during holiday breaks.

The photographer said that he has 3 goals for the project: to allow people to use the photos to show their opposition to the ban’ to help fight prejudices against people from other nationalities; and to make available these images as a ready-made campaign for various organizations.

“Though social media tends to act as an echo chamber, the hope is that these images might reach some Islamophobes and challenge their ideas of what it means to be a Muslim by presenting them in all their normalcy,” he says.


Inside Toronto


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