By Jerome Socolovsky
January 29, 2017
President Donald Trump said he is not barring refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries because of their religion.
But few, if any, of the people who protested this weekend in cities and airports across the country — and especially those who were motivated by their own religious convictions — believe that.
Here are the views of some who attended a rally on Sunday (Jan. 29) outside the White House:
Nesima Aberra, American University graduate student (Muslim)
“I’m glad people realize this isn’t about just Muslims, because if you look at the countries that Trump is trying to ban refugees from, it’s not at all in line with their agenda of national security really. So people understand there’s obviously a lot of hate and stereotypes that are being used to further these so-called national security policies. People realize that if you are truly a religious person, you would understand that these laws are not in line with your religious beliefs.”
Ayelet Hines, communications director, T’ruah, a rabbinic human rights group (Jewish)
“My grandparents fled Hitler in the late 1930s. They barely made it out. They went to whatever country would take them, and as you know the United States turned away Jews, turned away 908 Jews on the St. Louis, a ship carrying Jewish refugees that was turned away from the United States. And those Jews had to turn around and go back to Europe where many of them were murdered. And we can’t stand for that for any people, because we know this personally.”
Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Georgetown University chaplain (Jewish)
“As Jews, we’ve been called all sorts of names. We’ve been deemed dangerous over and over again at different parts of our history and that’s never been true. And so it is now, those who are being deemed dangerous or a threat, we know are not. And it’s not just we know that. It’s proven in every study that’s ever done. So the facts betray what’s going on here which is serious religious bias and persecution.”
Kim Coleman (Nichiren Buddhist)
“As a person not practicing the dominant faith of Christianity in America, I’m not here for myself. I’m here for the 134 million people in those seven countries who are no longer welcome here, and all refugees across the world, that are no longer welcome in America. At the same time, I know that anyone could be next. So just because you’re not Muslim, you need to see the injustice in this. You need to take action to any extent that you possibly can.”
Leigh Ainsworth (Christian)
“I just think that as Christians we’re called to love other people. And we’re supposed to spread God’s word to other people, and I think that includes people of other religions and we aren’t showing love if we’re telling people they’re not welcome here. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we should turn people away because they are different or they have different beliefs. Instead we should be welcoming them and having open and frank conversations with them about our faith and how it might differ, but at the same time how we might share similar beliefs.”
Jerome Socolovsky is Editor-in-Chief of RNS.