On a cold Saturday evening RICMA (Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement) held a vigil on the south steps of the RI State House for Syria, which is now in the grips of a slaughter that defies our sense of decency and humanity. The event was held to allow people to “come together and honor in prayer the great loss of human life, and find solace in scriptures with intentions for peace and ease for the suffering throughout the world.”
Given the snow and ice on the ground and the cold temperatures, many wondered if the event would go forward as planned, but Eva, one of the organizers, put the weather in perspective when she wrote, “I am aware the weather may not be favorable, but please do not let rain stop you!” wrote Eva, one of the organizers, “It is all the more reason to stand in prayer for those that are freezing with only the clothes on their backs and no shelter in winter weather. (Yes, it is winter in Syria.)”
75 people, of many different faiths and no faiths, came out in support of Syria: Muslim, Jew, Christian, Quaker, Unitarian Universalist and Humanist.
It was somber, emotional, even challenging event. The toll of human suffering in Syria is difficult to dwell upon, when it is so easy to turn away. But the organizers asked us to look. They asked us to “pray for our leadership around the world to not turn a blind eye on this atrocious and unforgivable violence.”
And so we looked, though the view was painful.
Things are not getting better in Syria. President-elect Donald Trump seems an ally of Russia’s Vladimir Putin who is an ally of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Trump has repeatedly said that Syrian refugees should not be allowed in our country and has threatened to suspend the refugee program for Syrians and deport those who are already here.
Yet Trump’s ugly rhetoric as usual does not match reality. There were Syrian refugees at the event outside the State House Saturday night, including children, playing in the snow.
They are not dangerous, they are families in need.