LETTERS: Refugee crisis draws dialogue

Letter writers address the reaction to Canada's plan to accept Syrian refugees, and a column by Peace Arch News editor Lance Peverley


The controversy over the government decision to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees is dismaying and contentious. The decision to accept these people into our country is correct and admirable.

The recent events in Paris have brought out the fearfulness and prejudices of some people.

My wife and I were in Paris that day. On Saturday morning, after the killing of 130 innocent young people by a few cowardly miscreants, we went for a walk. We met many brave and defiant Parisians who told us that they would not allow the actions of these cowards to interfere with their lives.

The perpetrators of this heinous act were mostly Belgian and French, with possibly one Syrian. They certainly were not refugees.

Canadians live in a country of prosperity and opportunity. These refugees have been in camps, in some cases for years. The refugees entering Canada should be welcomed, not shunned; aided not evaded. They want only what Canadians want: a chance at a better life.

Ian Routledge, White Rock

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We have to combat the underlying ideology causing these violent acts.

No amount of military action will stop this. The ideology that must change is contained in the Qur’an and Sharia. The violence done by ISIL, Boko Harem and other groups is following the instructions in the holy texts.

These texts need to be modified to remove the verses espousing violence. Until this is done, I firmly believe some Muslims will be drawn to these verses and execute them.

A study done by a Middle East group polled Syrian refugees on how much they support ISIL. The response was four per cent supported ISIL. This may seem to be insignificant, but four per cent of 25,000 refugees for Canada is 1,000.

Using the Paris attacks as a guideline, seven people killed 129, a ratio of 18 killed for each attacker. This means there is a possibility of 1,000×18 =18,000 casualties. These figures do not mean this will happen, but does illustrate what is possible.

Terry Williams, Surrey

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Re: Critical look at refugee crisis, Nov. 20 letters.

The letter written by Raaj Chatterjee is truly excellent.

One additional comment: other than ISIS propaganda, what actual concrete evidence do we have that they are “now mixing terrorists in with refugees.” And I don’t count a passport left conveniently at the scene. Like the guy just forgot to blow it up with everything else?

Methinks there is a fox loose in the hen house. Get a grip, Canada!

Maureen Kerr, Surrey

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In response to those who write letters against bringing refugees here, and give all kinds of reasons to mask their real motive, first, try to get our facts first and don’t think just locally.

We live in a global world; there are more than 70 million refugees. Our share internationally is 16,000 a year; this is what Canada has signed with the UN to take. In the last many years, it took about 11,000. In addition, they shifted part of the responsibility to private sponsorship.

Further, Canada is the only country that charges refugees for airfare. It takes them years to pay, with interest.

Some ask why refugees’ neighbours don’t help. Well, Lebanon, in spite of being a small country, took one million; Jordan two million. Turkey has four million, Saudis accepted 2.5 million since 2011 and provided $700 million in aid. The United Arab Emirates has taken 100,000, in addition to 140,000 already there.

Many of the refugees we have taken in the past have contributed millions to hospitals and UBC.

Can your conscience allow you to see children, women and the elderly suffer more than they already have, and say there is no room in the inn?

Shukrieh R. Merlet, White Rock

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Re: Refusing refugees rooted in more than fear, Nov. 20 column.

Thank you for putting into words so eloquently what I have not been able to do as of late.

I’m saddened that so many people I thought I knew well are so quick to close the door on the refugees.

Fear and paranoia seems to be bringing out the worst in people.

We have a chance to help these poor souls. God only knows what they have been through.

I’m tired of hearing that we need to help our “own” first. Those answers seem to come from people I do not see actually helping those in need…

Your last line really resonated with me and I will repeat it until I’m blue in the face: “Do you really believe that your safety trumps theirs”?

More positively, I’m collecting donations for the “Middle Eastern Friendship Society” in North Surrey. They are in desperate need for toys clothing and toiletries in preparation for the refugees, and with the help of a Facebook post, the community has been amazing. I’m picking up all over Surrey and White Rock and dropping them off at 13483 108 Ave.

Anita Brunet, Surrey

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We always read your editorial page. Your writing in your Nov. 20 column seemed more like a lecture.

Indeed, refusing refugees is rooted in more than fear. You write: “Forty minutes in just about any direction, and I see land available – if not prebuilt communities – to house newcomers.” Really, we know about the suffering on the Downtown Eastside, where our citizens have to live in squalor or on the street.

Have you spoken to citizens on a disability pension who can’t afford rent, or seniors on a fixed income who would love to have a prebuilt community that they could afford?

As for the fear – I have spoken with friends and family in Europe, and the fear is there! Refugees are fighting their own in camps and elsewhere because of different interpretation of the same religion.

We like to think we Canadians embrace every culture and religion, but common sense and caution are not anti-anything. I apologize, this letter also sounds like a lecture.

Heidi Bumann, Surrey

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I somewhat agree with you – everyone deserves a chance.

However, I have a problem with women hiding their face with a black mask. To me, this is very sinister and automatically I mistrust. If you want to immigrate to a new country, you have to be willing to adopt the laws and customs of the country.

An example, my relatives live in Italy, where last year they took in boats full of refugees from Africa. They were given money and shelter in the way of apartments to live in.

They all got cellphones so they could phone their friends and relatives, and instead of using the stoves in the apartment to cook their meal, they made a fire in the middle of the floor and cooked their food in a communal pot. Clearly, it did not work out well.

What is the adage? You can take the person out of the country…

D. Barros, White Rock