A different kind of Iraqi refugee story

With all the stories we’ve put up about unemployed Iraqi refugees,  I thought I’d post one outside of that template. Adam Ashton of the Modesto Bee reports on a group of Iraqi refugee women who are learning hair styling at Modesto’s Dior School of Cosmetology.

Sam Rasho, the school’s owner, lent these students a hand up, waiving $12,000 in tuition for them and 13 other refugees. They must spend eight more months in class before they’ll be ready to seek a license from the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

“People helped me, so I felt it was my duty to help them,” said Rasho, who left Iraq and arrived in Chicago in 1974.

This is typical of how immigrants have traditionally made their way in America — earlier arrivals helping new ones to make a living and to assimilate. So how come this story is so different from those previous ones of Iraqi refugees disillusioned with America? I suspect the answer is here:

Rasho heard about their trouble finding work through a network of Assyrian Christians in Stanislaus County.

That’s all it says about Christians, but it’s clear these are Iraqi Christians, not Muslims. Not something a reporter who values his job would want to emphasize, but probably the crux of the story.

“They are so dedicated,” Bradley said. “They’re going to get jobs because they’re eager to work and they work hard.”

There are plenty of Iraqi Muslims who have been here a long time and have prospered. Perhaps they could help out some of those unemployed Iraqi Muslims refugees by teaching them a useful trade. Perhaps they already are doing that and we just haven’t heard of it, but I doubt it. It makes such a good story that some reporter would have picked it up.

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