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Refugees Welcome: March on Utah State Capitol

The resistance against the moral failings of the current administration has begun. Immigrants, native Utahns, Mormons, and Muslims all marched together to protest the vile ban on refugees and immigrants.Women of the World led in the march. Founder and Executive Director, Samira Harnish, gave the below speech, which is published in its entirety with a video linked below.

Refugees Welcome Speech

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Samira Harnish and I am the Founder and Executive Director of Women of the World, a women refugee service organization here in Salt Lake City. Like many of you, I am a mixture of identities. That is still what makes America great. I am Iraqi. I am American. I am an immigrant. I am a mother. I am a Nana. I am a Muslim. I am a sister. I am a wife. I am the voices of our women from Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Yamen, Nepal, Burma, Sudan & many other great countries. I am a woman of the world. I am here today to ask our representatives to denounce the President’s Muslim ban. I am here to ask federal, state, and local leaders to put our children’s future above the Republican Party. You are meant to represent the best interests of the people, not the powerful. As a mother, I know something about bullies. I know that bullies hide weakness. I know bullies think we won’t fight back. I know that bullies never stand alone but surround themselves with other bullies. Does this sound like anyone you know? Have you seen this bully mock a disabled person? Threaten a professional woman? Are we going to be bullied? I said, are we going to let the bully rule over our country? As a refugee service provider, I know refugees are more courageous than anyone I know. Refugees began their journey under the cover of night. They ducked bombs. Their homes and cities are vanished. Even in these conditions, their humanity shines. They rescue a child, find food for their families.Refugees have suffered at the hands of our enemies. They are the escaped human shields. They have been tortured. Disabled. Their family members killed. It is only your mercy that can spare them a similar fate. They have gone to the ends of the earth to save themselves and their children. They were courageous in getting here… Will you be as courageous in defending their right to be here?

In my native Arabic, America is known as Um Aldinia. Um is mother, Aldinia is world. The mother of the world. Like a mother, America is caring, can be tough in her love, but is fair. Today we are acting more like the family’s racist uncle…I still remember that night in 2008 when I celebrated with my husband and our friends the nomination of the extraordinary gentleman with an identity as mixed as mine. But more than his nomination, his work, or his coolness under pressure; I will always resonate with President Obama’s creed. A simple statement that speaks both, to the hope and the community of a nation. “Yes we can.” Even when times seem dark. Yes we can.Even when the gates to immigration seem locked. Yes we can.Even as the tears of hopelessness stream down our face. Yes we can.Even as we stand up to power that would discriminate on religion. Yes we can.As we win the battle of ideas over alternative facts. Yes we can. As we stand for those that have lost liberties in the airports, yes we can…Lost liberties leaving the prisons———– yes we can…Lost liberties being outside the wall————yes we can… After being laid off——-yes we can…Or denied health care of any kind– Yes we can –Yes we can…Yes we can.Now I’m going to end with simple directions.The best way to serve refugees is to give them a voice and be their friend. Say it with me: give them a voice & be their friend. In giving them a voice, make sure your voice is heard. Go to everyday and call each of your representatives on immigration and refugee issues. Again that website is the number 5, C A L L S dot org. Make five calls every day and make your voice heard. Finally, befriend refugees and immigrants. Even a simple smile to someone that might have had their status questioned or that may have had a family member turned away is enough to brighten their day.Take an interest in where they are from, invite them over for the Superbowl, believe me, they will get great pleasure from being included. Give them a voice and be their friend. Thank you.

I am here to ask federal, state, and local leaders to put our children’s future above the Republican Party. You are meant to represent the best interests of the people, not the powerful.

It is not enough to just claim that the actions of our leaders are deficient, we must act on our moral outrage. Women of the World has been doing this in a non-partisan manner throughout its entire life. We live in complex times and are both the cause and the best solution for refugees. We can offer excellence in local solutions and struggle against our leaders’ misguided policies globally.What is guaranteed is that Women of the World will be at the front line in giving refugee women a voice and guiding friendships between “locals” and our new neighbors.

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