Birmingham Residents Rally to Show Support for Syrian Refugees

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A about four dozen people gathered Saturday morning in Birmingham’s Railroad Park downtown to take a picture showing that some Alabamians would like to accept Syrian refugees.

Back in November, when Governor Robert Bentley stated that Alabama would not accept any refugees fleeing the war in Syria, Rebecca Kallies felt betrayed.

“He is just perpetuating the bigotry that we are so known for,” says Kallies. “Somebody’s got to say no. We are going to say something different.”

So, she started the Facebook group “Refugees Welcome in Alabama-Birmingham” and invited over a thousand people to gather in Railroad Park and show support for refugees.

A group of teenage girls from the Islamic Academy of Alabama came with their teachers. They made handmade signs that read “No to Islamophobia” and “Refugees are Human Beings!”

One of their teachers, Yasmin Nimer, said that more members of the Muslim community want to come, but were too afraid “to be in public places.”

Yasmin Nimer, the Islamic Studies teacher and a counselor at the Islamic Academy of Alabama
Yasmin Nimer is an Islamic Studies teacher and a counselor at the Islamic Academy of Alabama.
Ashley Cleek,WBHM

Nimer says that the recent announcement by presidential candidate Donald Trump to bar Muslims from the U.S. has spread fear through the Muslim community.

High school senior, Dina Abdelqader, 17, came to show her support for refugees.

She shows a picture of a KKK flier on her phone that reads: “fight the spread Islam.” Abdelqader wears a bright pink headscarf. She says she hasn’t felt any increased hatred or suspicion in the past month, but that her friends tell her “to be careful.”

Gini Mohammad watches as her three children play in the park.

“We need to open our hearts and our doors. It could be us,” Mohammad says. “Kids, they are dying every single day. It could be us.”

After about an hour, those gathered stand together and hold up the letters to a hand-made sign that reads “Alabama Welcomes Refugees.”