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Syria: We Stand By You

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

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There are crimes against humanity taking place in Syria. Some blame the Syrian regime. Others blame the “anti-Assad propaganda.”

The conversation begins: who started it or who’s the lesser evil and in the chaos of blame and destruction, many innocents are killed, many drowned fleeing for refuge and many have become refugees.  Others are trapped in Syria watching like spectators the country fall apart.

What is our role in this bloodbath and what can we do to end the war?

As a Muslim, we begin resolving every matter with prayers of repentance and seeking guidance and help from God.

Please take the following with a grain of salt, definitely not a scholarly or political expert analysis.

  1. Given the length of the war and the human cost – I appeal for us to call for a Hudna or cessation of violence.
  2. Bring awareness to the situation.
  3. Elect a leader for the rebellion that represents the people of Syria.  Not a charismatic figure, but someone with wisdom and understanding, who is interested in the people of Syria, than in bringing Assad down.
  4. Submit a request for the Syrian opposition to join the International Criminal Court.  Violations and crimes against humanity need to be called out on all sides.
  5. End the mocking, ridicule and anything that adds fuel to the fire. As much as you can – do your part to promote calm to assist the refugees and those impacted by war.  In listening to lessons from the Qur’an by Imam Al Sharaawy – he explained that cursing an evil person only empowers him to do more evil.  Is this what we want?  Remember the man who killed 99 people and how the intelligent scholar helped him end his killing spree.
  6. We need to come up with a face-saving solution for Assad and his regime to step down.  If you send a message of no hope to Assad, he will have every reason to fight to the very end.

We need to flood the Russian Embassy with calls.

Protest in St Louis Park tomorrow at 4:45.  Message CISPOS for details.

CISPOS: Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria

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We are One MN: Standing United in Celebrating Community

By Multiple AuthorsCommunity Leaders

Over the years, Minnesota has been at the forefront of welcoming refugees and other immigrants from around the world. In fact, most Minnesotans are themselves descendants of immigrants, including refugees who escaped war, persecution, or natural disasters in the lands from which they emigrated. This is part of the rich heritage of Minnesota we have long celebrated.

However, today Minnesotans are deeply concerned when we hear reports of Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of intolerance around our nation, abroad, and even in Minnesota. Anti-Muslim attitudes, acts of anti-Semitism, and growing fear of refugees from Syria and other troubled countries are increasingly finding expression in hateful speech, prejudice and even acts of violence in our state and beyond. Now is the time to reaffirm our solidarity with and support of all who live and work in our community, particularly for the newest Minnesotans among us. Our goal is to send a clear message that all are welcome in Minnesota and that we stand united against the intolerance and hostility that too many refugees and migrants have reportedly encountered in our state.  As a community graced with a rich diversity of people, let us join together to celebrate We are One MN: Standing United in Celebrating Community.

We are One MN event details

When:           Sunday, April 24, 2016, 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Where:          Saint Paul RiverCenter, 175 W Kellogg Blvd, Saint Paul, MN 55102
What:            Speakers, food, music, and spoken-word performances from many countries and cultures.  Greetings from local, state, and national elected officials. The exhibit “Tents of Witness:  Genocide and Conflict.” Ethnic handicrafts, art, and books available for purchase. Art project. Videos of personal journeys of new and settled refugees in Minnesota.

The program is sponsored and supported by a number of state and local leaders from public and private sectors, including government agencies, faith communities, educational institutions, service clubs and immigrant support groups.

Your support is critical. Consider adding your name and that of your organization to our list of event sponsors. Then share the event widely with your memberships, constituencies, colleagues, friends, and family. Most importantly, join us in this important celebration and stand with us to celebrate community on April 24th.

Thank you,

Jessi Kingston, Director, Saint Paul Department of Human Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity
Ellen Kennedy, Executive Director, World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law

To add your name and that of your organization to our list of event sponsors contact:

Jef Yang
Section 3 Coordinator
CERT Certification Specialist
Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity
15 West Kellogg Blvd Suite 280
Saint Paul, MN 55102
P: 651-266-8968
F: 651-266-8919
jef.yang@ci.stpaul.mn.us

Governor Dayton discusses Syrian Refugees in MN

By Noor Qureishy, The Rubicon
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A flood of faces, a symphony of voices, weary but desperate to flee the insanity of their former lives, to run from the terrorism that has overrun their country. CNN reports that the United States has responded to the refugee crisis by allowing the admittance of 1,500 refugees (out of over four million that have fled Syria) since the civil war started in 2011, and has now committed to bringing in 10,000 more in 2016.

Although 31 governors have publicly announced their stance against the admittance of any more refugees into their respective states, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton will welcome refugees here. “To single out one group of people from one country who are fleeing terrorism themselves is just I think an extreme overreaction,” Governor Mark Dayton said. “To say that we’re going to prevent people from coming here, families and others who’ve been vetted carefully to me is really ill-advised. It’s not going to make Minnesota safer.”

Dayton believes that every necessary precaution should be taken when resettling refugees, and that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is doing just that with their vetting procedures.

The security process for refugees has been known to be extremely selective and rigorous; refugees are subjected to the highest possible level of security checks of any traveler in the U.S. They are also reviewed by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense according to Dayton.

Dayton believes that the statements made by governors in an attempt to keep refugees out of their states are at best, showmanship. “As a practical matter, unless you stop every car that’s driving across the interstate, you’re not going to be preventing people from moving from one place to another. It’s really just a lot of showmanship and pandering to the worst fears of people,” he said.

Continue reading at The Rubicon

Noor Qureishy is a third-year writer and 2015-16 In Depth editor for The Rubicon, the St. Paul Academy school newspaper.

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If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

Experts on refugee process dispel misconceptions about prospective Syrian immigrants

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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Suzan Boulad has recently noted a new depiction of the Syrian refugees: America’s new enemy.

“Syrian refugees are painted as sort of this new threat,” said Boulad, a Syrian-American and a University of Minnesota School of Law student.

The debate on refugees escaping the deadly conflict in Syria began to unfold two weeks ago, after it came to light that one of the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks on Paris may have sneaked into Europe on a Syrian passport.

This claim led some state and federal officials to call for more scrutiny of Syrian refugees. Until a tougher resettlement process is in place, the officials have proposed a pause in the plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States in the coming months.

“I think the presidential and other elections coming up have a lot to do with that,” said Boulad, whose aunt and cousins still remain in Syria. “There’s always a convenient scapegoat in society. It’s unfortunate that those political elements have a very real impact on people’s lives.”

Petition against Syrian refugees

Thousands of Minnesotans have also responded to the issue as they took to the Internet to sign a petition that accentuated their demand to keep Syrian refugees out of the state.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)