Muslim Iraqis to Albany, where are the Christians?

Here is another of those refugee template stories, this time from the Albany Times-Union.   The difference between the Iraqi refugee stories and the refugees-in-camps stories is that the reporter always puts in a little extra effort to say how dangerous Iraq is thanks to us. 

To set the scene, the reporter begins his heartwarming story by describing a nice little family gathering where widowed mother serves her sons a meal of Baghdad style pita wraps as they chat in Arabic in the safety of their nice little apartment in the capital of the great state of NY–Albany.    What is wrong with this picture?

Jenan Salman had prepared a favorite dish for her sons, Bakr Najm, 27, Omar Najm, 22, and Othman Najm, 17. They were sharing it with 35-year-old Yaser Almahdawi, also an Iraqi refugee, one who lives nearby and has become like one of the family.

Here is what I want to know?  Why are we bringing fighting aged young Muslim men to America?  Why are our men of the same age fighting and dying for freedom in Iraq while their men gobble down taxpayer funded pitas in the nice little apartment in upstate New York?

Here comes Lavinia Limon of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (the mothership to the CT volag I’ve been writing about) to explain the terrible circumstances these young men left behind.

“We are seeing in Iraqi refugees a heightened level of trauma compared to other refugees,” said USCRI president Lavinia Limon. “Most refugees come here from some war situation, but in the case of Iraq their young people have seen things that will never leave them. Some have seen family, neighbors blown apart.


“There are still millions of Iraqis over there in dire circumstances, many living under direct death threats and it’s getting progressively worse.”

It’s getting progressively worse!  Where is she getting that information?  Or, is that just what the mainstream reporters want to hear? 

Then Almahdawi jumps in because he speaks perfect English (he was an interpreter) to tell us more.

Almahdawi said neither he nor Salman and her sons did anything that would mark them for death by the Iraq government, but all of them said they would not feel safe if they returned to Baghdad.


“It is dangerous there, too many gangs in the streets,” said Almahdawi, the interpreter, who left behind four brothers and three sisters.


The violence is steeped in centuries of unrest between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Salman and her family are Sunnis, and Almahdawi said he isn’t affiliated with either.

Yeh, well so do our young fighting men and women feel “unsafe” there too.   These refugees have already said they are not targets.  Fearful of gangs?  Well, I hate to break it to you but you will find those in Albany as well.

So, we have learned that the Salman family are Sunni’s who weren’t personally in any danger, were not personally persecuted.  The interpreter doesn’t say he was a target and won’t even say whether he is Sunni or Shia, or what he is.  

How come every story I see these days about the Iraqi refugees never has any truly persecuted Christian refugees in them?  Where are the Christians?

And, by the way, here is Lavinia Limon’s testimony to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus at the end of last year, not a word about persecuted Christians, or any other persecuted minority either.

Distrust building in Waterbury, CT

This is an update of the post I did the other day where the International Institute of Connecticut has come under fire from the refugees it is supposed to serve.  The mostly Burmese refugees feel the agency is not doing its job and so a meeting was arranged between the director and the refugees.    Much to the surprise of local American advocates (church members and a teacher), they were closed out of the meeting.

A local church was thwarted Saturday from attending a meeting between Waterbury’s Burmese refugees and their resettlement agency, when the agency sent a bus to get the refugees and bring them to its headquarters in Bridgeport.


Two volunteers from Living Faith Christian Church and a local teacher gathered at the refugees apartments Saturday, ready to help them pose questions about their rent and medical appointments. Many of the 60-plus refugees had asked church members to be at the meeting to help them articulate their concerns. But the director of the International Institute of Connecticut, which resettled the refugees last summer, insisted that the meeting was confidential and closed to the church and the press.


“They went to great lengths to keep us from going and that makes me more suspicious,” said Cheryl Newland, of Living Faith Christian Church. “We were just going to observe what was going on so we could hear at least what the institute told them.”


Kate Lockwood, a West Side Middle School teacher, was at the refugees’ apartment Saturday morning, asked to accompany the refugees. But after case worker Anthony Zurowski called his sister, Angela Zurowski, director for resettlement at the institute, Lockwood was told the meeting was private.


“I could tell the families were upset,” said Lockwood. “I’m doing this because I care about them. I don’t think they get that same sense from the institute.”

I laughed out loud when I saw this last line in the story from the Republican American.  Way to go Ya Za!

One refugee, Ya Za, has become so distrustful of Zurowski and the institute that he purchased a tape recorder and took it with him to the meeting.