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Local Residents Decry Islamophobia: Say “Welcome Syrian Refugees, War is Not the Answer”

What: Candlelight Vigil

When: Tonight, Thursday, December 10, 5:30 pm

Where: Park Street Station, downtown Boston

Boston, December 10-- With deep concern about intolerant calls to block Muslims from entering the U.S. and a growing hatred of Muslim-Americans, local residents will hold a candlelight vigil tonight outside Park Street T-Station on the International Day for Human Rights.

“The horrific massacres in Paris, Beirut and California call for level-headed thinking and a coming together of all Americans, not scapegoating the Muslim community and desperate Syrian refugees,” said Paul Shannon of Somerville. Thea Paneth of Arlington pointed out: “Congress’ raising higher barriers against Syrian refugees recalls the times when we interned Japanese Americans and sent Jews back to their deaths in the Holocaust. Desperate Syrian refugees are the victims of war and slaughter in which many parties including the U.S., not just ISIS, have played a role.”

The organizers point out that the ISIS inspired massacres in Paris and California are only part of a larger and complex tragedy in which the U.S. has played a major part. That larger picture includes an ISIS bombing in Beirut 2 days before Paris, the recent U.S. bombing of a Doctors without Borders hospital in Afghanistan killing scores of doctors and patients; the Assad government’s brutal attacks on Syrian civilians; the downing of a Russian airliner killing hundreds; U.S. drone attacks and the U.S. backed Saudi bombing of a wedding party in Yemen killing over 150 people. “We must keep in mind that our destruction of Iraq from 2003 to 2011 led to the creation of ISIS and that our flooding of the Middle East with American weapons has provided ISIS with the weapons it used to take over large parts of Syria and Iraq” notes Cole Harrison of Roslindale and director of Massachusetts Peace Action. “Our military interventions, weapons sales, and support for brutal regimes in the area are a primary cause of the tragedy unfolding before our eyes. They are a gift to ISIS which uses them as recruiting propaganda.”

Speakers include Rev. Kathleen Reed of the University Lutheran Church in Cambridge and Rev. Stephen Kendrick of the First Church Boston.

Those participating in the vigil call for:

·         The U.S. to do its part in accepting Syrian refugees

·         Assuring the safety or our Muslim fellow citizens

·         Opposition to U.S. escalation of its bombing in Iraq and Syria;

·         Stopping material and financial support for the extremist ideology of ISIS, Al Qaeda and other Jihadist groups by Saudi Arabia and our other Gulf allies;

·         Beginning a demilitarization process by ending arms shipments into the area by all outside countries;

·         Negotiations among the U.S., Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and European countries to stop fighting to achieve their own strategic goals under the guise of “fighting ISIS” and to instead put their full weight behind diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed and support a process that allows Syrians to decide the fate of their country.

War is not the answer to the ongoing disaster in the Middle East caused by war.

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