Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Please, listen to a refugee"
by Nusrat, a member of BATs since the beginning

As a Muslim whose family was granted asylum in USA, let me tell you, the asylum seekers and the refugees do not just waltz in and are handed a green card and a Big Mac! It is a long drawn out process. The Syrian refugees are not just turning up at US shores. They are being thoroughly vetted in camps in Jordan and Turkey. I recently volunteered at the refugee resettling agency and most of the refugees had to wait more than 2 years to get a refugee status in USA. The refugees are asked to provide proof - actual documents - to prove their identity and their stories. This even before they go for an interview. The list of documents is exhaustive, the documents are checked for authenticity, so are the stories before one is called for an interview or a series of interviews. Not everybody is granted a refugee status as United States only accepts a certain number of refugees. Even when they arrive here the refugees are in contact with government agencies and have to comply with certain requirements, they cannot just disappear. So with all due respect, all this hysteria is just political grandstanding. It is not welcoming people because of their religion.
Where were all these teachers after Sandy Hook massacre, demanding that all white males be thoroughly vetted before being employed in schools or even visit a school? Do people concerned about Syrian refugees ask the movie theaters to be extra vigilant about white male patrons? Why do I not see a clamoring for a ban or extra scrutiny of Norwegian males after the Oslo massacre? I hope people who are against admitting Syrian refugees are also extra vigilant about EU nationals, as you know all the terrorists so far identified have been EU born and raised. Even if it eventually comes out that one of the terrorists was Syrian, it tells us more about the broken system in place for helping the desperate people than it tells us anything about Syrian refugees. Volunteers on the ground have been asking the European governments to provide more assistance and setting up refugee processing centers in Turkey and Jordan so that Europe can avoid the refugee crisis happening right now, and provide fleeing Syrians a safe passage. I write as a person of Muslim faith who is angry and afraid at the same time. Angry that I, my faith, and Syrian refugee's Muslim faith are being used by the coward politicians to score some points with their voter base.
I am angry that Syrians are seen as one mass. Just because maybe one of the refugees may have used his status to visit carnage upon Paris, then it must be that all of them should suffer, as one Syrian is same as the next. I am afraid because the voices of hate, Islamophobia, and xenophobia are being brought center stage, amplified by the politicians and echoed by many Americans. There have already been hate crimes committed against Muslims in the wake of Paris attacks, and I do worry about what comes next.
I came to USA because I lost my father to the same hate that many Syrians are fleeing. I came here because we were being killed in our places of worship, on our way to work, and in our houses. I admire this country for welcoming me and providing me with a safe place to love and live. I do miss my home. I would have never left my country if I knew I was welcome there. Nobody leaves their homes, walks thousands of miles, crosses a sea unless the dangerous, lonely, and painful journey is safer than the place they once used to call home.
Please, listen to a refugee. See their journey and desperation, and understand they are fleeing the same terror which is making some Americans discard the values they so cherish. Do not let your fear dictate your actions and your choices. As educators, we teach our students to share, to be kind to each other. We try everyday to make our classrooms a welcoming place for all our students. As educators we hope that we are helping our students grow as compassionate and kind human beings. We try everyday to make our schools bully free. The Syrian refugees are fleeing the biggest and meanest bullies on the block. We as educators can not turn our backs on the bullied, otherwise what kind of example are we setting for our students?
If you can, talk to a refugee. Read their stories. Go to your local refugee resetting agencies and volunteer. You will come to realize that refugees are looking for a safe place, just like all of us.
“you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
“Home” by Warsan Shir

1 comment:

  1. this is powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking....i thank BATs for sharing this....


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