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CAIR: Faith and Civic Leaders Release Open Letter Asking Ohio Governor to Reverse Stance on Refugees

websitelogo(CLEVELAND, OH, 11/24/15) – A coalition of more than 50 faith and civic leaders today released an open letter to Ohio Governor John Kasich asking him to reconsider his stance against Syrian refugees being resettled in Ohio.

The coalition, which includes Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and other interfaith and civic leaders, issued their open letter in response to a recent statement by Ohio Governor John Kasich calling for a halt to the resettlement of Syrian refugees. 

Read the full letter

The November 16 statement made via his spokesperson Jim Lynch indicated that, “The governor is writing to the President to ask him to stop, and to ask him to stop resettling them in Ohio.â€Â  The statement went on to say, “We are also looking at what additional steps Ohio can take to stop resettlement of these refugees.â€

SEE: Governor John Kasich says no to Syrian refugees

More than half the nation's governors say Syrian refugees not welcome

The Ohio governor’s stance against refugees came as a surprise to many because he has previously welcomed Syrian refugees and has frequently challenged anti-immigrant rhetoric from fellow Republicans on the presidential campaign trail.

The letter, which appeals to the governor to show leadership and compassion toward vulnerable people fleeing the chaos of war and violence, states in part:

“The people of Ohio look to you for leadership and courage, especially during difficult times. . .We understand your concerns for safety in light of the recent ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris. However, we ask that in securing the safety of Ohioans, you do not collectively punish all Syrian refugees, who themselves are seeking safety from war and terrorism. . .To cut off the Syrian people in their time of need goes against American values. As Americans, we must be a beacon of compassion and hope in a troubled world. The terrorists want us to be afraid, to turn against each other. If we turn inward, they will have achieved their political goals of weakening our common humanity and breaking our global connections. We urge you to trust your original welcoming instinct, retract your statement, and find ways to work with the federal government to ensure that Ohio takes as many Syrian refugees as possible.â€

The letter states that while the decision to stop the flow of Syrian refugees may be politically tenable, it would not stand up well in the eyes of history. The letter points to past example when Governor Ted Strickland, regretful over his remarks on refugees, made an about-face after being criticized by faith leaders for his refusal to accept additional Iraqi refugees during the Iraq War.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: M. Isam Zaiem, board chair emeritus, Council on American-Islamic Relations, 216.337.7928,; Julia A. Shearson, executive director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Cleveland Chapter, 216.830.2247 or 216.440.2247,

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