Southern Illinois man from Syria speaks out for refugees

While the manhunt for suspects in Friday’s terror attacks in Paris continues in Europe, lawmakers around the U.S. are urging President Barack Obama to sign a new bill that would make it harder for certain refugees to enter the U.S.

Police in Paris banned pubic demonstrations until Nov. 22. That’s the latest in expanded security measures after Friday’s terror attacks. Meanwhile, two people died Wednesday after raids on suspected terrorists.

Belgian and French police say a wiretap led them to an apartment in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. Two people, including a woman police say they believe is the cousin of the attack ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, died when the woman detonated a vest. Officers say they will use DNA evidence to determine who was killed.

One of the alleged terrorists of last Friday’s attacks posed as a Syrian refugee, officials say. It’s a factor leading more than half of the nation’s governors, including Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt Bevin, to declare their states won’t take in new Syrian refugees.

A longtime Illinois resident originally from Syria says it’s fear and stereotyping refugees that’s making the problem worse.

Issa Abed moved to the United states from Syria 25 years ago. The prominent physician in southern Illinois says he’s been living in Carbondale for the past 16 years.  Abed joined community members and religious groups Tuesday night at the Carbondale Muslim Center for a message of acceptance and Thanksgiving.

Abed says it’s that drive for freedom and acceptance that brought him here.

"(I was) looking for my freedom, to express myself, to help myself, my family and help other people," said Abed.

With his brother, sister and much of his family still in Syria, Abed says it’s frustrating to see people stereotype all Syrian refugees because of one person’s deeds.

“One bad man out of basically 1 million people. What’s the guilt for those almost 1 million people who have no place to go? Or why do they have to carry the guilt for that inappropriate man?" Abed said.

He says it spreads fear and false impressions when states like Illinois refuse to allow in refugees because of that.

"When he decides to that, that means he labels all the people coming from that area who need to leave. We classify and label those people as inadequate or Islamic terrorists also,” he said.

Despite that, Abed says he feels very welcome in the community here, a feeling echoed by others.

"We can’t label people, one religion or another. And so, it’s really providential, I think, so that we can illustrate that," said Father Bob Flannery, St. Xavier Catholic Church.

Abed says he hopes it’s that acceptance and not fear that sticks with Americans in the future.

Obama vowed Wednesday to veto a bill that would increase screening for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. The bill adds a new requirement for FBI background checks. The House is set to vote on the legislation Thursday.

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