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Faith Perspectives On Refugee Crisis and Fear

Ahmad Al-Abboud, member of the first Syrian refugee family to be settled in the U.S., expressed his appreciation and thanks to Kansas City at the May 19th "Confronting Extremist Violence, the Refugee Crisis, and Fear: Faith Responses" Interfaith forum organized by the American Friends Service Committee and co-sponsored by 25 area organizations.   Photo: / AFSC

The American Friends Service Committee organized a May 19th forum titled, “Confronting Extremist Violence, the Refugee Crisis, and Fear: Faith Responses” with the GKC Interfaith Council and the KCMO Public Library.  The event co-sponsored by an additional 28 faith and community organizations was attended by over 300 community members.

The program was moderated by Bill Tammeus, and included introductory remarks by an instructor of military history, Lt. Col. Brian Steed, who emphasized that the battle over the “narrative,” rather than the battle with bombs and troops, was the important battle being fought with the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Panel members including, Dr. Vernon Howard; Fadi Banyalmarjeh; Rabbi Linda Steigman; and Father Paul Turner, provided opening reflections on their faiths’ teachings related to human suffering, violence and fear. After these remarks, panel members responded to audience questions ranging from: how to help Syrian refugees? to, whether violence was the only way to respond to extremist violence?

Organizers and attendees were moved and informed by the program presentations which encouraged to reflect on how our faith values could guide public policy related to these challenging issues. An unexpected highlight of the evening was a greeting and expression of thanks to Kansas City by Ahmad Al-Abboud, member of the first Syrian refugee family to be settled in the U.S. resettled here in the KC metro. (Video of the May 19th Forum can be found at this link.) 

At the Interfaith forum AFSC introduced a Statement of Solidarity with the People of Syria, Refugees and People of All Faiths. We invite people concerned about the rise in hate, xenophobia, and fear to read and endorse the statement at this link.

 The May 19 forum will be followed by a “For Further Discussion: Confronting Extremist Violence, the Refugee Crisis, and Fear” round table discussion event on Tuesday, August 30, from 6:30 to 8:00pm at the KCMO Central Library, 14 West 10th Street, KCMO. The event will consist of a dozen separate and simultaneous roundtable discussions, facilitated by members of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council and representatives of the American Friends Service Committee. Table discussion topics will include issues of Syrian refugees, responding to violence and fear, the American Narrative, Confronting Islamophobia  and bias, and more. RSVP at this link. Or contact the American Friends Service Committee at: afsckc@afsc.org or 816 931-5256.