Local Muslim-Americans with ties to Syria speak-out

In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, Mohammed al-Haj waits to be registered by local authorities in the Serbian town of Presevo. The 26-year-old from Aleppo was one of more than 600,000 migrants and refugees who flowed into Europe in the first 10 months of 2015. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

“‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these the homeless tempest toss to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door,’ to me that is America, that is what we stand for.”

Hajar Alrifai quoted this passage that’s inscribed right inside the Statue of liberty. She says it illustrates exactly why she thinks the U.S. should be allowing Syrian refugees like her family into our country.

“These refugees are trying to get away from the terrorism only to get to our doors and be called terrorists when they get there and it’s really just exhausting,” Alrifai tells News 10.

The Muslim-American says the stigma attached to her religion is frustrating.

“We have to be able to distinguish between innocent people and these extremists who are far out from the people who are coming here,” she says.

Her brother Omar echoed her concerns. He says his family, trying to escape the dangers in Syria are anything but terrorists.

“My aunt she’s a doctor, my other aunt she’s an elementary school principal actually K-12 and my uncles are engineers and architects but they all fall under that same label, Syrian refugee and you hear that and you think ugh,” Omar tells News 10. “But they’re all just the same as us and they all just want the independence that we have.”

He empathizes with the tragedy Parisians faced last Friday, Alrifai says his family in Syria faces similar violence every single day.

“There’s no ‘no-fly zone’ to keep them safe so they’re under constant attack from the government from ISIS, you know whoever it may be.”

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