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Durham inter-faith vigil welcomes refugees, immigrants

Posted December 7, 2015

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— Leaders of various faith communities in the Triangle are responding to the global refugee crisis and want to send a message that immigrants and refugees are welcome in the state.

A Monday evening prayer vigil and dinner at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, in Durham, was sponsored by faith groups as well as refugee and immigrant advocates. They said that in the face of some recent backlash against Syrian refugees, they want to send a very intentional message – that immigrants and refugees are welcome in North Carolina.

"People of faith are welcoming refugees and immigrants to North Carolina," said Jenifer Copeland of the North Carolina Council of Churches. "There has been, of course in the press, a great deal of anti-immigration and anti-refugee sentiment."

Copeland made that declaration right on the heels of many heated debates. On Monday, presidential hopeful Donald Trump called for a temporary barring of Muslims from the United States. In November, Gov. Pat McCrory joined other governors to ask the federal government to stop sending Syrian refugees to North Carolina.

"This is not a univocal sentiment of North Carolinians. There are many, many North Carolinians who are immigrants themselves, who are welcoming immigrants, who understand that not all Syrians are people who carry bombs," said Copeland.

Ghazwan Hamid came to the United States from Iraq. He said he would like to hear more conversations about acceptance.

"It doesn't matter if they are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or whatever because we have to respect the others. It doesn't matter their religion," said Hamid.

People who identified with Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths prayed and sang together under one roof at Monday's vigil before sitting around the dinner table.

"I came tonight because I wanted to be in solidarity with my friends in supporting...a welcome," said Durham resident Daniel Levinson.

Those who organized teh event said they would like to hear more focus on the contributions immigrants have made to communities in the Triangle.

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  • Sean Creasy Dec 8, 2015
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    Have you not been paying attention to recent events not only here but world wide? The only way to prevent future attacks is to prevent the ability of the people doing these attacks from entering our country.. Plain and simple... Just because a handful of folks think that letting Syrian refugees into our country let alone our state doesn't express the overwhelming majority that doesn't. Most of these members of the "let them in crowd" are "special interest" groups who stand to benefit financially through government rewards for following Mr. Obama's policy of ignorance. I like to use the M&M example here: If
    I gave you a big bag of M&M's then told you 10 of them were poisoned and would kill you would you eat them anyway? It is the same with the refugees. Out of 100 at least 15 to 20 of them are extremists trying to get here to kill us so and the vetting process obviously doesn't work so tell me again why we need to let them come here?

  • Anne Havisham Dec 7, 2015
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    Mr. Case, how many Native American languages did your ancestors know?

    The assumption that assimilation is the ultimate goal seems un-American to me. In addition, homogeneity is a bore.

  • Justin Case Dec 7, 2015
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    Roy Hinkley, I am so impressed. And Thank You

  • Roy Hinkley Dec 7, 2015
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    How very xtian of you.

  • Justin Case Dec 7, 2015
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    The people supporting this Feel Good agenda are as ignorant as the day is long !Though a Liberal is far too stupid to look at other countries that have recently tried accepting the Syrian refugees to see what types of problems it's causing. France-Germany-and the UK have ALL said that the Syrian refugees allowed into their countries REFUSE to assimilate. They take ALL the local and federal handouts they can get, and to show their appreciation they refuse to have anything to do with their fellow countryman !! I for one Do Not want them here !