Monday, December 14, 2015

WHY WE SHOULD WELCOME SYRIAN REFUGEES

Members of Midcoast Friends Meeting urge Americans to welcome Syrian refugees into our country, communities, and homes.

We have been impressed by the caring, humanitarian response, and courage of countries willing to take in nearly 1,000,000 refugees this year. One quarter of these refugees fled the misery of camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey where 4,000,000 still languish.

We need to respond with the same care, courage, and commitment.

Two months ago Americans were shocked by the photo of a drowned two-year-old boy on a beach in Turkey. Today compassion has given way to sweeping fears that terrorists will be embedded among refugees coming to the U.S.  Remember that apart from one terrorist in the Paris attacks those killers were French and Belgian citizens.  Their terrorism was born in depressed and disaffected urban communities in Paris and Brussels and fueled by ethnic and sectarian inequities.

We know that fear will lead to serious moral and political failures and dangerous misunderstandings.  We fail to remember that U.S. military interventions have devastated so many lives and communities in Iraq and Afghanistan, enhancing the rise of virulent anti-American jihadi groups such as ISIL. The more we treat Syrian refugees as security threats, the more we reinforce Jihadi assertions of the West's indifference to Muslim suffering, indeed the claim that the West is at war with the whole Islamic world.  Fear-based attitudes also alienate American Muslims in our communities. Such alienation breeds violent responses.

Current anti-refugee and anti-Muslim attitudes underlie the Congressional attempt to block the entry of Syrian refugees as well as Governor LePage's pledge to do everything in his power to prevent relocation of refugees to Maine.

We urge our Governor, legislators, and fellow citizens of Maine to look beyond their fears and to support a full humanitarian response to Syrian refugees.


Midcoast Friends Meeting (Quakers)
Damariscotta

This statement was composed at the direction of Midcoast Friends Business Meeting, November 2015.