Arkansas's only Syrian refugee: Sees little difference between Trump and other politicians | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Arkansas's only Syrian refugee: Sees little difference between Trump and other politicians

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 7:02 AM

  • Patricia May/Arkansas Catholic
Thanks to Eric Francis for a link to an op-ed in the state newspaper of the United Arab Emirates. Omar Al Muqdad writes of his experience as the only Syrian refugee in Arkansas, a time in which he was welcomed as a temporary resident of Fayetteville. What he's seen from Arkansas and other politicians since then has not been so pleasant. He's a journalist now living in Washington.

He fled Syrian atrocities in 2012 and finally won asylum here. (See Arkansas Catholic article by Patricia May in 2012.) His article effectively illustrates a point I wanted to make this morning. The many condemnations of Donald Trump, even by other Republicans, for suggesting a bar to all Muslims' entry are disingenuous.

Because, really, what does the near unanimous opposition to acceptance of Syrian refugees mean but opposition to admission of all Muslims? From the article:

I was astonished by the whole experience of living there. I can’t forget the extraordinary treatment from the family who offered me a room in their home, or the many car rides I was offered every day. How can I forget the heartwarming smiles and hellos everywhere I went, or the many invitations I received to visit homes and churches? They asked me to share my story and the stories of my people and I spoke gladly.

By contrast, last month I was shocked when the governor of the same state that welcomed me announced that Syrian refugees would not be welcome in Arkansas. What was even more shocking is to learn that I was the only Syrian refugee that was officially admitted and granted residency in that state.

Worse, the governor of neighbouring Tennessee announced that he wants refugees who have already been admitted to his state – and the whole of the United States – to be sent back to Syria.

The amount of hostility that has been shown toward refugees by the Republican presidential candidates in general, and by Donald Trump in particular, over recent weeks is deeply worrying. 

.... Many of the state governors who have spoken out against Syrian refugees have justified their views through security concerns. As a Syrian who, like many other Syrians, suffered from the lack of security, I am completely in favour of a security check on everyone who wants to enter the country. But that doesn’t mean it is possible to generalise the threat as coming from all refugees, or to paint them all with a single brush, or to say to all of these desperate people: “You are all a threat and need to stay out.”

The Arkansas’ governor’s reaction to refugees, and the many others who support the same position, all reflect a lack of information and understanding of the refugees crisis. Syrians are facing a catastrophe, a mass migration as a result of one of the worst wars in recent history.

....In my opinion, rejecting refugees and justifying it because of a need to protect the country from terrorist attack is baseless. Not a single identified terrorist involved in the Paris attacks was a Syrian refugee, but the bullet was already fired and the judgment was already made. Eleven million displaced Syrian refugees have been labeled as terrorists by that decision.

Ironically, France, the country which was actually struck by terrorists, has decided not to give in to terrorist threats and agreed to welcome 30,000 more refugees. That highlights the shortsightedness of American politicians. ...

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