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Obama: Shameful, Un-American to Close Our Hearts to Syrian Refugees


Monday at a press conference in Antalya, Turkey at the G20 Summit, President Barack Obama said it would be “shameful and “not American” to only take Christians refugees and that we must not “close our hearts to these victims of such violence, and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”

Remarks as follows:

“One of the places that you’re seeing this debate play itself out is on the refugee issue. Both in Europe and in, I gather, it started popping up while I was gone back in the United States. The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism. They are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents. They are children. They are orphans. And it is very important — I was glad to see that this was affirmed again and again by the G-20 — that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence, and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism”

“In Europe, I think people like Chancellor Merkel have taken a very courageous stance in saying it is our moral obligation as fellow human beings to help people who are in such vulnerable situations. And I know that it is putting enormous strains on the resources of the people of Europe. Nobody’s been carrying a bigger burden than the people here in Turkey with 2 1/2 million refugees and the people of Jordan and Lebanon who are also admitting refugees. The fact that they’ve kept their borders open to these refugees is a signal of their belief in a common humanity. And so we have to, each of us, do our part. And the United States has to step up and do its part.”

“And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims. when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person is fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted. When some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion. When Pope Francis came to visit the United States and gave a speech before congress, he didn’t just speak about Christians who were being persecuted. He didn’t call on Catholic parishes just to admit those who were of the same religious faith. He said protect people who are vulnerable. So I think it is very important for us right now, particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard, not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us.”

“I had a lot of disagreements with George W. Bush on policy, but I was very proud after 9/11 when he was adamant and clear about the fact that this is not a war on Islam. And the notion that some of those who have taken on leadership in his party would ignore all of that, that’s not who we are. On this, they should follow his example. It was the right one. It was the right impulse. It’s our better impulse. and whether are European or American, the values that we are defending, the values that we’re fighting against ISIS for, are precisely that we don’t discriminate against people because of their faith. We don’t kill people because they’re different than us. That’s what separates us from them. And we don’t feed that kind of notion that somehow Christians and Muslims are at war.”

“And if we want to be successful defeating ISIS, that’s a good place to start, by not promoting that kind of ideology, that kind of attitude. In the same way that the Muslim community has an obligation not to in any way excuse anti-Western or anti-Christian sentiment, we have the same obligation as Christians. And we are — it is good to remember that the United States does not have a religious test and we are a nation of many peoples of different faiths, which means that we show compassion to everybody. Those are the universal values we stand for. That’s what my administration intends to stand for. All right? thank you very much, everybody.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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