On CNN, Muslim Refugee Advocate Slams Conservatives' Call For A “Christian-Only” Refugee Policy

Arab American Association Of New York's Linda Sarsour: They Are “Bar[ing] The Very People Who Are Running Away From The Same Terrorism That We're Talking About”

From the November 16 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:

Video file

CHRIS HAYES (HOST): Linda, your response to this news cycle today on this issue.

LINDA SARSOUR: As an American born and raised in Brooklyn and that runs an organization that serves refugees, asylees, and immigrants right here in New York City, I am so disturbed by what I'm listening to. I mean religious tests, how do you know what religion someone is? I don't understand what that even looks like. And we are trying basically to bar the very people who are running away from the same terrorism that we're talking about. The Syrian refugees left their country because of ISIS. Because of the Assad regime. And that's why they flee to places like Europe. And our country is known to be welcoming refugees. Our Statue of Liberty continues to be a symbol of welcoming immigrants into this country. I'm disturbed by the rhetoric of people who are in our leadership and I'm grateful for President Obama to stand up to this rhetoric.

HAYES: Rupert Murdoch, one of the most powerful men in the world, I think it's fair to say, says this. 'Obama facing enormous opposition in accepting refugees. Maybe make special exception for proven Christians.' Can you imagine a State Department bureaucracy that is effectively able to to tell who is a proven Christian?

SARSOUR: What does that mean? Are they going to do a blood test and if it turns into wine? I don't even understand. It's ludicrous to hear what these people are saying. Majority of the refugees that we're talking about are young children. These are children who have seen so much trauma, violence, potentially their parents massacred. They've been displaced. These people have -- some have drowned on the way to Europe. We're taking a drop in the bucket to be the greatest nation in the world, one of the most wealthiest nations of the world. And for us to be debating over 10,000 Syrian refugees, we're not even making a dent into that.

HAYES: OK. But what do you say to people who say, look, we just saw -- And I just want to be clear about what we know about what happened. On the bodies of one of the assailants was a passport that appears to be a Syrian passport. It is likely a fake passport. Though it does appear to show stamps that suggested he came in a direction many refugees are using, Leros, Greece, through Macedonia and up into Europe. People that say, look, we can't afford taking any more risk. There has to be a limit.

SARSOUR: Well we heard from your previous guest the vetting process of refugees is extremely tedious. I know this from the clients that I have served, and Iraqi refugees who have come here. And I tell people, let's stop basing our decisions on unconfirmed information. We still do not know if that Syrian passport belonged to one of these people. And let's remember most of those who are committing these attacks are home-grown. They are from Belgium, they're from France, they are not people who showed up from Raqqa, where we are now seeing the French bombing a country that has huge -- a place with huge populations of civilians still. People have to understand that ISIS is playing over the divide and conquer. They want the world to hate Muslims. They want us to push Muslims away. They don't want the American government to see the Muslim Americans as their partners. The Europeans to see Muslims in Europe as their partners. They want to tell you they hate you, they don't want you. This is how they play on the vulnerability of these men who are now being sympathizers of groups like ISIS.

HAYES: I imagine in the work that you have done face to face with people that have come from these place, people talk about just the irony, the tragic irony of being terrorized by these monsters, frankly, who have been committing unspeakably barbarous acts. And then to find yourself unwelcome because of another act they committed.

SARSOUR: Absolutely. These people -- what people need to know is that the largest group of victims of ISIS are Muslims. Muslims are the largest victims, group of victims of ISIS. They've seen trauma, they've seen torture. They have seen things unfathomable that we as Americans will probably never experience. And here we are telling them, nope, can't come to our country. Can't see some normalcy in your life. You can't see safety. This is not the American way. This is not what we're known for.


Rupert Murdoch Endorses Religious Test For Refugees, Calls For “Special Exception For Proven Christians”

On CNN, Reza Aslan Explains How The Media Is Failing In Its Reporting On Islam

Following Paris Attacks, Right-Wing Media Echo GOP Call To Accept Only Christian Refugees

Fox Host Gretchen Carlson Lets Guests Push For “Profiling” Of Muslims Seeking To Enter The U.S.

Conservatives Use Paris Attacks To Stoke Fears About Admitting Syrian Refugees Into America