Friends of Refugees

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Archive for the ‘xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism’ Category

College Station community unites after Mosque shooting

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 22, 2016


The College Station community in Texas has come out in strong support of a local mosque that was found with five bullet holes following gunfire last Friday — no doubt a gift from the political right-wing. The outpouring of support has lifted the spirits of many in the Islamic community. An article and news report at KBTX CBS-3 has the story:

COLLEGE STATION – The community came together Friday to show support for the Islamic Community of Bryan-College Station following gunfire at the mosque early Thursday.

Nimrah Riaz and Shumila Zaidi have grown up at their local mosque. The five bullet holes they found in the building Friday left them shaken.

“When I first heard that, I was in shock,” said Nimrah Riaz. “I’m going to cry it was really sad. My dad was here and he is the most peaceful man in the world. He has given me so much wisdom,” said Shumila Zaidi.

Dan De Leon is a local pastor who coordinated a rally at the mosque in response to the shooting.

“Hatred and violence in the form of gun violence on this mosque is to inflict violence on our entire neighborhood,” said De Leon.

More than a hundred people stood side by side surrounding the mosque during afternoon prayers. Many of the participants were not Muslim but rather supporting their neighbors.

“This won’t be tolerated by this community,” said De Leon.

The outpouring of support has lifted the spirits of many in the Islamic community… Read more here

Posted in crime, hate crimes, Muslim, right-wing, safety, security/terrorism, Texas, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Twin Falls police investigate threats over Fawnbrook assault

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 28, 2016


After failing at their disinformation campaign about a child who was sexually abused in Twin Falls last week (there was no gang rape, not at knife point, and not by Syrian refugees) right-wing activists have now turned to making threats against city officials.  Police and the FBI are looking into violent threats left at city offices.  An article in the Times-News explains:

TWIN FALLS — Police and the FBI are looking into violent threats left at city offices and made against city officials over the handling of a sexual assault on a 5-year-old girl.

Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar and Vice Mayor Suzanne Hawkins have both forwarded threatening messages they received about the incident to police.

Three boys from Middle Eastern families, ages 7, 10 and 14, were involved in the sexual assault against the girl at the Fawnbrook Apartments on June 2, authorities have said.

Two of the boys are Sudanese, one Iraqi. The two older boys are facing juvenile charges.

The story started to get national attention about a week ago after the two older boys were taken into custody. Several anti-Muslim and anti-refugee resettlement bloggers wrote about the case, with some incorrectly saying the boys were Syrian or containing details authorities have denied, including saying the assault was a gang-rape and that the boys held the girl at knife-point. Many of them accused law enforcement, city officials and local media of trying to cover up the incident.

“I’ve had my fair share of emails from folks this week sharing their concerns, and a fair amount of just outright lies and wrong information about this very tragic case that’s being handled,” Barigar said Friday.

Barigar said several of the emails and phone messages, “are what I would characterize as threatening personally to me and family”…

“I don’t believe it’s our local citizens doing it,” she said of the threats. Read more here

Posted in FBI, police, right-wing, Twin Falls, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More deceptive attempts to incite anti-refugee sentiments

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 20, 2016

“There were no Syrians involved, there was no knife involved, there was no gang-rape,” Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said Monday morning.


After two juvenile males were charged for an alleged incident involving a 5 year-old female in Twin Falls in Idaho, right wing blogs and websites manufactured a story supposedly involving a gang rape at knife-point by Syrian refugees. A 7-year-old juvenile male allegedly touched a 5-year-old girl.  A Twin Falls County Prosecutor said Monday morning that, “There were no Syrians involved, there was no knife involved, there was no gang-rape.”  In addition, the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center, which oversees refugee resettlement in the Magic Valley, did not resettle the boys involved, and no Syrian refugees have been resettled in Twin Falls. An article at has the story:

Authorities are denying claims that Syrians gang-raped a child at knife-point in a Twin Falls apartment complex earlier this month.

“There were no Syrians involved, there was no knife involved, there was no gang-rape,” Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said Monday morning.

His comments largely refute several differing accounts about the incident circulating on anti-refugee resettlement, anti-Muslim blogs and conspiracy websites. Most claim a group of Syrian refugees sexually assaulted a mentally disabled girl at knife-point June 2 in the laundry facilities of Fawnbrook Apartments, a low-income housing complex in Twin Falls…

According to prosecutors, three boys were involved, ages 7, 10 and 14, and the alleged victim was a 5-year-old girl..

“All those involved are juveniles, and the older one didn’t touch the victim in any way,” Loebs said. He said only one person is alleged to have touched the victim, but he declined to elaborate.

The prosecutor received a report Thursday from police. Further refuting claims made in the stories online that police bungled the investigation or tried to cover it up, Loebs said the police investigated the incident thoroughly, interviewed everyone who needed to be interviewed and followed proper protocols.

Refugee-resettlement officials called the online stories deceptive attempts to incite anti-refugee sentiments…

…no Syrians refugees have been resettled in Twin Falls… Read more here

Posted in College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center, Idaho, right-wing, Syrian, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Minnesotans oppose anti-Muslim sentiment with message of support

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 6, 2016


The Minnesota Council of Churches is leading an effort to oppose anti-Muslim sentiment with a message campaign using yard signs. The lawn signs read, “To our Muslim neighbors: Blessed Ramadan.” An article at KMSP-TV-FOX-9 has the story:

(KMSP) – In the midst of a presidential election filled with talk of discriminating against Muslims, there is a Minnesota-made campaign to fight Islamophobia.

The Minnesota Council of Churches is distributing yard signs… to assure Muslims as they begin Ramadan that Islamophobia is far from a universal feeling. The lawn signs read, “To our Muslim neighbors:  Blessed Ramadan.”

“We have extremely radical Christians who sometimes get violent and Jews who sometimes get violent, Hindus, Buddhists, all over the world. In every religion there are those who go to the extreme, [but] the vast majorities do not and we want to signal to our Muslim friends and neighbors that we know that,” Pastor Tim Hart-Anderson of Westminster Presbyterian Church said. 

One of ISIS’s stated goals is to create, through their violence, Islamophobia in the western world and inflame a divide to push the vast majority of Muslims who do not agree with them to eventually join them anyway… Read more here

Posted in discrimination, Minnesota, Minnesota Council of Churches, Minnesota Council of Churches, Muslim, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Public alarm in Twin Falls quelled with facts despite efforts to foment “pocket of resistance”

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 4, 2016


Just the facts

In the present political climate a void free of facts is a perilous thing, especially when it comes to refugees. Extremist opponents have tried hard to foment “pockets of resistance” around the country. In Twin Falls in Idaho, despite a handful of very vocal opponents shouting at city council meetings about speculative “al-Qaeda plots”, the public listened to the facts and decided to support local refugee resettlement efforts, and an anti-refugee initiative failed miserably. An article at The Economist has the details:

THIS has not been a great election season for cool appeals to reason. Few public debates have strayed as far from Socratic ideals of truth-seeking as those involving refugees…Strikingly, some of the loudest calls to bar new refugee arrivals have come from communities that are rarely, if ever, sent refugees from Syria or other high-risk countries…

A distinctively different sort of refugee debate has gripped the small rural city of Twin Falls, Idaho for the past several months…

National alarm over Syrian arrivals found an echo in Twin Falls late last year. A group of locals launched a petition drive to put a formal ballot initiative before county voters, asking them whether they wanted the refugee centre closed. Rick Martin, the owner of a small repair service for medical devices, was the prime mover behind the petition…he [asserted], and there is a “very, very high potential that [Islamic State] sympathisers are in our community right now.”

…His ballot initiative [however] failed woefully…

City elders and defenders of the refugee centre have a different take. They say that they quelled public alarm with the least fashionable of tools: facts. In particular, supporters of the refugee programme point to the impact of a public forum attended by more than 700 people, organised by the Times-News, and addressed by Twin Falls school, public safety and medical officials…

Patiently, the panellists set out the costs and benefits of receiving a few hundred refugees in Twin Falls each year. Refugees are not a burden on the public purse: they are helped to find work fast, and typically the newcomers pay more in federal taxes in a single year than they receive in their one-off resettlement grants…

Refugees are screened for health problems and commit crimes at an exceedingly low rate, panellists added…

…terror groups trying to infiltrate America would find it much easier to send militants who hold European passports, who can visit without visas.

Wiley Dobbs, superintendent of the Twin Falls school district, told the forum how special services for refugees and immigrant children, including two centres that prepare newcomers to learn in American schools, account for 0.42% of his budget. “There was a lot of false information out there,” Mr Dobbs recalls. “The neat thing is, we were just sharing the facts”… Read more here

Posted in College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center, legislation, right-wing, Syrian, Twin Falls, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

South Carolina anti-refugee bill dies with end of legislative session

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 3, 2016


The South Carolina republican bill that would have required all refugees to register with the state and made religious organizations and other groups that sponsor refugees liable for the refugees if they were ever to commit any crimes has died with the end of the legislative session. The writer of the anti-refugee bill said that the intent of the bill was to make it more difficult for refugees to live in South Carolina. An article at The Herald has the details:

Legislators started this session earlier this year in the midst of an international refugee crisis, as people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa fled to Europe in ever increasing numbers and President Barack Obama’s announcement that 10,000 additional refugees from the Syrian civil war would be resettled in the United States this year.

But in the aftermath of terror attacks in Paris, France, and San Bernardino, Calif., opposition to admitting more refugees to the United States grew. York County and several other local governments approved resolutions opposing the resettlement plans…

But the bill was never taken up by the House Judiciary Committee, and it officially died when the session ended.

The idea of a refugee registry earned vocal opposition… Read more here

Posted in discrimination, legislation, right-wing, South Carolina, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Anti-refugee voices try to foment “pockets of resistance”

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 3, 2016


A loud minority that are against resettlement are trying to dominate the conversation about refugees in Rutland, Vermont. The ban-Muslims, build-a-wall people give good sound bites and headlines, but they do it with misinformation and distortions in trying to form “pockets of resistance.” An article at the Rutland Herald explains:

…Two weeks ago, an anti-immigration group formed on social media invited James Simpson to speak about the perils of Syrian immigrants coming to the Rutland community. And in a packed, standing-room-only meeting at Rutland Free Library, Simpson detailed the coming plague of sex crimes, diseases such as latent tuberculosis and mosques led by radical imams preaching jihad.

Simpson is affiliated with the extremist Center for Security Policy and has written extensively on developing pockets of resistance in communities such as Rutland to keep Muslims out of the U.S. at all costs.

In his book, “The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America,” Simpson draws upon the work of Refugee Resettlement Watch founder Ann Corcoran, a national leader in the anti-immigration, anti-Muslim movement…

“The opponents (to refugee resettlement) in Rutland are unwittingly being swayed by these hate groups,” he said. “I don’t believe they know who is influencing them, and they would be shocked and appalled at who they are hanging out with.”

“All the information in these articles are complete lies about how it happened in Rutland,” Louras said. “It’s shameful that any Rutlanders would buy into anything that is said by these groups. This pocket of resistance is not representative of the larger community, and they are a vocal misguided minority”… Read more here

Posted in right-wing, Vermont, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

North Carolina should ensure US continues as land of opportunity for those having lost much, argues veteran

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 1, 2016


Republicans have introduced a bill into the North Carolina House that create a climate of hostility for refugees. The bill, known as the “Refugee Resettlement Act” would prohibit local governments from requesting refugees unless they document they are capable of resettling them and require they hold a public hearing on the issue. The bill would also allow jurisdictions to ask for a moratorium on resettling refugees by documenting their lack of capacity and the potential “harm” refugees may pose to local residents. Once a moratorium is approved, getting it lifted would be a difficult process, requiring localities to hold a public hearing, adopt a resolution and receive approval from the head of the State’s Refugee Assistance Program before moving forward. A retired Marine officer involved with Veterans for American Ideals argues that the United States has a longstanding tradition of being open to and inclusive of those wishing to come to our country, especially those who are most vulnerable and most in need, which the bill runs contrary to on every level. His Op-ed in The News & Observer in Raleigh makes the case:

…By welcoming refugees into our communities, we do not weaken our national security, we in fact strengthen it. In welcoming refugees from Syria and other countries of the Middle East, we undermine ISIS’ propaganda narrative that the West is hostile toward Muslims. Instead, we demonstrate the United States provides the freedom, the hope and the compassion that ISIS lacks in its brutal campaign of terror against its fellow Muslims…

The United States of America has a longstanding tradition of being open to and inclusive of those wishing to come to our country, especially those who are most vulnerable and most in need. North Carolina should reject this bill and hold to its duty to ensure that the United States continues to be seen as a land of new opportunity and a hoped for and cherished new homeland for those who have lost so much. We must remain, as citizens of this great country, Semper Fidelis… Read more here

Posted in legislation, North Carolina, right-wing, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam disagrees with Republican anti-refugee legislation

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 24, 2016


Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has come out against legislation ordering legal action against the federal government over refugee resettlement in Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Homeland Security had earlier stated that the background check process for refugees is extremely rigorous, while Tennessee’s state attorney also issued an opinion saying the state does not have the legal right to ban Syrian refugees. An article in the Knoxville News Sentinel has the story:

…[Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam] declined to sign [Senate Joint Resolution 467], which has no practical effect other than signifying the governor’s position.

In a brief message outlining why he didn’t sign it, the governor noted that SJR467 directs the attorney general to initiate legal action regarding refugee placements in the state and authorizes the House and Senate speakers to hire outside counsel if the attorney general declines.

“I trust the attorney general to determine whether the state has a claim in this case or in any other, and I have constitutional concerns about one branch of government telling another what to do,” Haslam wrote.

The governor’s message also said that he’s asking state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to “clarify whether the legislative branch actually has the authority to hire outside counsel to represent the state.

“I also question whether seeking to dismantle the (federal) Refugee Act of 1980 is the proper course for our state,” the governor’s message continued. “Rather, I believe the best way to protect Tennesseans from terrorism is to take the steps outlined in my administration’s Public Safety Action Plan, which enhances our ability to analyze information for links to terrorist activity, creates a Cyber Security Advisory Council, restructures our office of homeland security, establishes school safety teams, and provides training for active shooter incidents and explosive device attacks”…

…[Slatery] issued an advisory opinion Nov. 30 that Tennessee cannot refuse to accept refugees the federal government has processed and admitted to the United States because “such a refusal would impinge on and conflict with the federal government’s authority to regulate the admission of aliens to the U.S. and thus would violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution”… Read more here

Posted in right-wing, Tennessee, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Over 100 protest Fargo TV station after dishonest refugee report

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 22, 2016

Protest at Valley News Live

Protest at Valley News Live, May 22, 2016

After a local TV station in Fargo in North Dakota aired an inaccurate and inflammatory news report this week on refugees and tuberculosis a group of over 100 protesters showed up at the station today to protest the report. Health officials in North Dakota and Minnesota told The Forum that refugees do not pose a serious health risk with tuberculosis. An article and video at The Fargo Forum covered the protest:

FARGO – Around 100 people chanted “Just tell the truth!” as they protested a Fargo TV station on Sunday following a report it aired about the supposed health risks of living near refugees.

The report on Valley News Live on Monday, which said “everyone” living in “refugee resettlement areas” was at risk of getting tuberculosis, drew condemnation from the immigrant community and even elected leaders.

…Fargo Deputy Mayor Mike Williams spoke at the protest, publicly criticizing the report….

Health officials in North Dakota and Minnesota have told The Forum that refugees do not pose a serious health risk with tuberculosis. Refugees are screened for the bacterial disease, which is also treatable… Read more here

Posted in health, North Dakota, right-wing, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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