Skip to content

Do we let them in?

Newly-elected prime minister Trudeau seems determined to keep his election promises, including accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of the year.

Newly-elected prime minister Trudeau seems determined to keep his election promises, including accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees before the end of the year.

The accepting of Syrian refugees has become a contentious issue, especially among those who fear that terrorists will (or have already) infiltrate the hordes of displaced people and make their way to other countries.

Some are warning that bombings an attacks will be inevitable if we let any refugees into the country.

The sad part of this is that it isn’t just your average believe-anything-they-read-on-the-internet folks that are sounding the alarm, it is elected officials and others who should have a better understanding of the situation.

Several US Governors and Mayors are attempting to close their borders to refugees, stating their jurisdictions will not accept any. (They do not have the authority to do this, but it’s not stopping them from making these claims.)

Equally sad are the xenophobic comments that people are posting on social media and on news media discussion forums, including SooToday.

On the weekend, following the Paris attacks, there were may requests for “Prayers for Paris.” These were quickly followed by pleas — and explanations — of why prayers should be offered “for the World”, and not just Paris.

Part of me understands why there is such a reluctance to view people who are “different” — from a different culture, who dress differently and speak a different language — as being welcome in this country.

I understand, but that doesn’t make it right.

I grew up here in the Sault in the 1960s. I heard the slurs against Italians, Portuguese, Polish, and other “immigrants”, the families of some of whom had been in the Sault for decades at that point.

I hear the arguments being offered now, sadly reminiscent of what I heard in the 60s, and I find them just as offensive today:

“They’ll come here and want to keep speaking their own language instead of learning English,” and “They’ll force their customs and traditions on us.”

Look around. We have more Italian restaurants than almost any other city I have ever visited. Perogies and Cabbage Rolls are popular items at many local banquets. We now have a number of Chinese and Thai and Indian restaurants, and they are doing well.

Immigrants do bring their customs and traditions, just as our forebears brought theirs from England, Scotland, Holland, France, Spain, etc.

And no, it is not different because our predecessors came here decades ago.

We’re all immigrants, really.

Not all Arabs are Muslims. Not all Muslims are terrorists.

A local Muslim man, Shahrukh Khan, has submitted a letter to SooToday explaining how he views the situation, and which offers a thoughtful and much needed perspective on the situation.

He describes the situation much better than I can. You can read it here: http://

Syrian refugees are fleeing a despicable situation: their own government is engaged in civil war; militant radicals are killing over 100 people — adults and children — every day.

There have been over 250,000 killed in Syria, including over 30,000 children.

There has been a massive drought, resulting in an extensive famine, which has also contributed to the flight to freedom.

And Syrians are only a fraction of the refugees around the world that are waiting to find a new home, a land of hope an opportunity.

We pride ourselves on the fact that Canada is one of the most respected countries in the world; one of the countries most people would choose to emigrate to.

And yet, there are those who would deny refugees the opportunity to come to our wonderful country, and become a part of our multi-cultural mosaic.

It saddens me that people allow fear and ignorance to rule their lives.

It saddens me even more that people would spread messages of intolerance and hate, sharing misinformation and outright lies in an attempt to convince others to accept their point of view.

We need to stop thinking of refugees as “them”, as “those people” who want to come here and change our way of life.

We need to educate ourselves as to who are neighbours are, and what their way of life entails.

We’ll find that despite some differences, we’re all very much alike when it comes down to the level of individuals and their families.

And that, also, is key: we must remember that the refugees, many of whom have spent years, even decades in refugee camps, are children. Children who do not deserve to grow up in such conditions.

Children who deserve the same opportunities as our own children.

We need to recognize that we live in global village, and these are our neighbours.

Do not accept without question random comments on the internet, however genuine and convincing it may seem, that describes how the Qur’an inspires the type of violence being committed by terrorists.

Even the Christian scriptures, The Bible, has admonitions to “smite thine enemy”, which when taken out of context sound like instruction.

And lest anyone believe that only Muslims are capable of terrorism, here is an article describing the five worst acts of terrorism committed in the USA — by so-called “Christians”. Read this here:

Terrorism is not product of any religion or faith tradition.

It is a product of fanatics, zealots, and radicals who take their religion and twist its tenets to match their own goals and purposes: to spread terror and fear as far and wide as possible.

The vast majority of refugees and immigrants are innocent people, seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

Should we let “them” in?