Senators John Miller and Gayle Goldin are hosting a State House rally on Thursday at 1:30 “to demonstrate support and compassion for refugees fleeing the crisis in Syria,” according to a State House press release.
Miller said the rally tomorrow is to dispel any misconceptions that Senator Elaine Morgan’s comments are representative of the Senate as a whole. Morgan sent an email that brought national attention to Rhode Island because it said Muslim refugees should be kept in a camp, and, she wrote, “The Muslim religion and philosophy is to murder, rape, and decapitate anyone who is a non Muslim.” She later said she meant to include the word fanatical in this description.
“I’m embarrassed if people think that is a feeling that is prevalent in the Senate and this is an opportunity to show that there are other strong opinions,” Miller said. “I’ve heard from other senators who want to separate themselves from the comments made by Senator Morgan.”
Miller “absolutely” supports Rhode Island taking in Syrian refugees. “Not only is it the essence of Americanism it’s also the essence of Rhode Island.”
So far, the three state legislators to speak out for accepting Syrian refugees are all Jewish – sens. Miller and Goldin and Rep. Aaron Regunberg. Regunberg wrote a high profile letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo after reps. Bobby Nardolillo and Doreen Costa said they thought Rhode Island should not welcome refugees fleeing war and oppression in the Middle East because it poses a domestic security threat.
“I think the context for a lot of people is whatever their heritage is,” said Miller. “Our recent history shows how horribly wrong it can go when you start to identify the few.”
The senators will be joined by former Gambian refugee-turned-Rhode Island Omar Bah, whom Steve Ahlquist profiled in 2014. They will also be joined by Father Bernard Healey, a Catholic priest and State House lobbyist for the church, Rabbi Sarah Mack, a progressive rabbi from Providence and Iman Farid Ansari, a local leader of the Islamic faith, among others.
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- Humanists of RI support sheltering Syrian refugees in RI