syria

Maan, Bayan, and their three children arrived in Dearborn in April. The family does not want their names or faces revealed because they fear any media attention could endanger their relatives still in Syria.
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

To understand the tragic toll of the civil war in Syria, you need look no further than the city of Homs.

The western Syrian city was held by rebels and under attack by government forces.

Four years ago, on February 22, 2012, American-born reporter Marie Colvin spoke to CNN from Homs, trying to describe her anger at the shelling of civilians in the city:

“There are 28,000 civilians, men, women and children, hiding, being shelled, defenseless.”

“So it’s a complete and utter lie that they’re only going after terrorists. There are rockets, shells, tank shells, anti-aircraft being fired in parallel lines into the city. The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.”

Shortly after that report, Marie Colvin and a young French photographer were killed when ten rockets blasted into their makeshift media center.

A refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos
Razi Jafri

More Syrian refugees have come to Michigan seeking a new life than any other state.

The State Department reports that 505 Syrian refugees settled in our state between May 2011 and May 2016. And more are on the way.

Maan, Bayan, and their three children arrived in Dearborn in April. The family does not want their names or faces revealed because they fear any media attention could endanger their relatives still in Syria.
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

Among the hundreds of Syrians who fled their homeland for Michigan is a young family of five.

They came here just this past April, trading the violence and death in Homs for a sparsely furnished, rented corner duplex in a modest neighborhood in Dearborn.

We'll be bringing you the story of this young family on Stateside over the coming months as they settle into their new life in Michigan.

Razi Jafri

Many of us have seen the heartbreaking scenes and photos from the Syrian refugee crisis and wondered: how can I help? There are plenty of charities to donate to and even ways to help here in Michigan, but Detroit-based entrepreneur Razi Jafri took it a step further.

The federally-created Council of Governors has a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. This is the group of 10 governors (always five Republicans and five Democrats) that gives the federal government the states’ perspectives on national security issues.

This is also the group that Governor Snyder said he wanted to conduct a review of federal security policies after the self-proclaimed most pro-immigration governor called for a “pause” in resettling refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries after last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Egypt.

Windsor's financial district
wikimedia user Tkgd2007 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The public debate about welcoming refugees from Syria isn’t just happening here in the States. Canada is planning to receive 25,000 Syrian refugees over the next three months.

This week, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens joined with municipal leaders from all across Canada for a meeting in Ottawa to hear the newly elected Liberal Party of Canada's plans for resettling the refugees.

UNHCR

 

There’s been a lot of confusion in the last few days.

So let’s just clarify something here: Syrian refugees are still coming to Michigan. More are expected.  

And Governor Snyder is fine with that.

Terrorism, refugees, and political rhetoric

Nov 20, 2015

Each week Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, join us to take a look at Michigan politics. 

In the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, Gov. Rick Snyder called for a pause on efforts to admit Syrian refugees into the U.S. and Michigan. Snyder says while he eventually wants to allow Syrian refugees to settle in the state, he first wants the federal government to review their security protocols for assigning refugee status.

UNHCR / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Activists have delivered thousands of signatures to Gov. Rick Snyder urging him to welcome more Syrian refugees. Snyder says he’s “pausing” his efforts to attract additional Syrian refugees to Michigan after last week’s attacks in Paris.

Julie Quiroz of Ann Arbor started an online petition asking the governor to reconsider. She says she didn’t expect it to get so much attention.

UNHCR / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Rick Snyder was the first governor in the nation to speak out on refugees following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut. And he may have come to regret it as he tries to clarify his position vis a vis what a lot of the nation’s other Republican governors are saying about refugees and immigration.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Oakland County’s top elected official, L. Brooks Patterson, is demanding the city of Pontiac stop a new housing development and community center being built for Syrian refugees.

Patterson says accepting any Syrian refugees carries an “immediate threat of imminent danger” after the recent attacks in Paris – even though it’s unclear whether any of the attackers were Syrian refugees.

In fact, Patterson says he'd like the U.S. to stop accepting any refugees or tourists from anywhere in the Middle East.

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

For this Week in Michigan Politics, I spoke with senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry about how the terrorist attacks overseas could impact Michigan, and whether Governor Snyder has the power to put on hold efforts to bring Syrian refugees to Michigan.  We also got an update on proposed bills to allow people to carry concealed weapons in gun-free zones.


People moving from Syria into Turkey.
European Commission DG ECHO

Plans to transform an abandoned elementary school and nearby vacant lots in Pontiac into a community center catering to Syrian refugees are moving forward.

This in spite of Gov. Rick Snyder's announcement that he's putting Syrian refugee resettlement efforts on hold in Michigan.

Syrian-American businessman Ismael Basha is one of the project's organizers.

He said he was disappointed in Snyder's announcement, which came in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Soon after the terrorist attacks on September 11, there was a story in the Boston Globe saying that some of the hijackers had entered this country from Canada.

Instantly, there were calls for a crackdown on security along what we had been proud to say was the world’s longest unguarded border. 

Suddenly, it was no longer practical for people who worked in Detroit to pop over the river for a quick lunch or dinner in one of Windsor’s superb restaurants. Fourteen years later, things still haven’t returned to normal.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Syrian American community and its supporters are urging Governor Snyder to resume efforts to re-settle refugees in the state.

Snyder had taken a welcoming stance toward Syrian refugees.

But he’s withdrawing that welcome, at least temporarily, in light of last week’s terrorist attacks overseas.

Governor Rick Snyder bowed to pressure yesterday and made a decision that was politically easy.

He reversed his earlier courageous stand and announced that Syrian refugees are no longer welcome in Michigan.

Here's what he said:

"Our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents. Given the terrible situation in Paris, I’ve directed that we put on hold our efforts to accept new refugees until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of its security clearances and procedures.”

What the governor did was exactly what ISIS would want.

Michigan governor puts refugee acceptance efforts on hold

Nov 15, 2015
Google

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan's Republican governor, who has bucked many party leaders for welcoming Syrian refugees, is putting efforts on hold following the deadly attacks in Paris.

Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Sunday that the state is postponing efforts to accept refugees until federal officials fully review security clearances and procedures.

via loopnet.com

Plans are in motion to build a Syrian refugee haven around an abandoned Pontiac elementary school.

The project is the brainchild of some Metro Detroit Syrian-American refugee advocates.

Local businessman Ismael Basha is one of the project’s organizers.

Basha says he and a partner have purchased the former Franklin Elementary School, along with about 120 vacant lots surrounding the school.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

One of three remaining Democrats in the Presidential race stopped in Dearborn Friday.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley met with Syrian and Iraqi refugees now living in Metro Detroit, before addressing the Arab American Institute’s National Leadership Conference.

O’Malley condemned what he calls “xenophobic immigrant hate” coming from Republican candidates.

And he says Democrats should be talking more about Syrian refugees.

Google

It's the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

Syrian men, women, and children are fleeing the war and carnage in their homeland, desperately trying to get to a country that will welcome them, and let them begin new, safe lives.

It's forced the White House to consider admitting more refugees to the United States, with Secretary of State John Kerry recently pledging the U.S. will accept 100,00 refugees a year by 2017. That's up from the current 70,000 a year.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of Syrian refugee families had a special time in a school gymnasium this past weekend.

About a dozen families came out to the Beverly Hills Academy in suburban Detroit to celebrate Eid al-Ahda.

That’s one of the Muslim world’s biggest holidays. It commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God, and also coincides with the end of the Hajj, the annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

People moving from Syria into Turkey.
European Commission DG ECHO

The Syrian refugee crisis has forced President Obama to consider admitting many more refugees to the U.S. Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry pledged that the United States will take 100,000 refugees a year by 2017, increasing from 70,000 this year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Former President Jimmy Carter told a Grand Rapids audience Monday that he supports U.S. military air strikes against Islamic extremists in Iraq, though he’s less supportive of similar air strikes in Syria.

The U.S. launched air strikes against ISIS in Syria last night.   This follows a series of air strikes against military targets in northern Iraq.  

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

How best to deal with the extremely messy situation in Syria?

That’s the question the U.S. government and the international community are wrestling with right now. But it’s one that Syrian expatriates have wrestled with in a different, more intimate way for more than two years.

Metro Detroit has one of the nation’s largest and oldest Syrian communities. How have they dealt with the crisis? How are they using the community’s social and economic resources to help?  

A long history, but strong ties

President Barack Obama
White House

President Obama is conditionally endorsing a Russian offer for international inspectors to seize and destroy chemical weapons in Syria. It's an effort to avert U.S. missile strikes.

President Obama addressed the nation last night amidst the continued erosion of support in Congress for military strikes. The President's speech drew mixed reactions from Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Todd Spangler, D.C. based reporter for the Detroit Free Press, joined us today from Washington.

Listen to the full interview above.

It's called many things -- the

ACA, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. As implementation of the law continues, so does the confusion. On today's show, we sat down and tried to make sense of it all. What will the law mean for Michigan and for you?

And, we spoke with the Detroit Bureau correspondent for the new TV network Al Jazeera America.

And, author Jim Tobin and illustrator Dave Coverly joined us to talk about their new children’s book.

And, public transportation can be confusing, especially for children. The Youth Transit Alliance in Detroit is looking to improve this. 

Also, Moo Cluck Moo, a fast food restaurant in Dearborn Heights, has stepped up and raised their starting wage to $12 an hour. The founder spoke with us about why he thinks fast food workers deserve to be paid more than minimum wage.

First on the show, President Obama is conditionally endorsing a Russian offer for international inspectors to seize and destroy chemical weapons in Syria. It's an effort to avert U.S. missile strikes.

President Obama addressed the nation last night amidst the continued erosion of support in Congress for military strikes. The President's speech drew mixed reactions from Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Todd Spangler, D.C. based reporter for the Detroit Free Press, joined us today from Washington.

White House press office

The president’s speech last night on Syria is drawing mixed reactions from Michigan’s Congressional delegation.

Senator Carl Levin says the president “made a forceful and persuasive case” for confronting the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.    The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee says Congress should approve a resolution authorizing the use of force against Syria as a way of supporting diplomatic efforts.

Ever since the city of Detroit's historic bankruptcy filing, there have been accusatory fingers pointed at past mayoral administrations -- black administrations.

On today's show, we talked with Marilyn Katz. She played a leading role in the Students for a Democratic Society demonstrations and has recently penned the piece "Detroit's Downfall: Beyond the Myth of Black Misleadership."

And, the band "Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr." stopped by to talk about the inspiration for their music.

Also, Michigan plans to try experimental "social impact bonds." What are these bonds and what do they mean for the state?

First on the show, as the headlines unfold over the civil war in Syria and whether the United States should or should not take military action against Bashar Assad's regime, there are thousands of people in Michigan watching with the most intense interest.

Syrians first started coming to Michigan at the turn of the 20th Century. Today, the Syrian Community in Michigan numbers about 25,000.

We wanted to get a sense of what this civil war looks and feels like for these thousands of people in Michigan with close ties to Syria.

Dr. Yahya Basha came from Syria to Southeast Michigan in 1972 after graduating from medical school at the University of Damascus. He is a leader in the Syrian-American Community in Michigan.

He joined us today.

cell phone picutre via Associated Press

Opponents and supporters of U.S. military intervention in Syria have been holding rallies across Michigan.

 President Obama is asking for Congress's support to attack Syria over what he says is the government's use of chemical weapons. Several dozen opponents of a U.S. attack marched through downtown Detroit for a rally Sunday at the waterfront Hart Plaza. About 30 people opposed to American military intervention turned out for a rally Saturday in Grand Rapids. And on Friday, about 100 supporters of an American military response held a rally in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham. 

As the headlines unfold over the civil war in Syria and whether the United States should or should not take military action against Bashar Assad's regime, there are thousands of people in Michigan watching with the most intense interest.

Syrians first started coming to Michigan at the turn of the 20th Century. Today, the Syrian Community in Michigan numbers about 25,000.

We wanted to get a sense of what this civil war looks and feels like for these thousands of people in Michigan with close ties to Syria.

Dr. Yahya Basha came from Syria to Southeast Michigan in 1972 after graduating from medical school at the University of Damascus. He is a leader in the Syrian-American Community in Michigan. He has been active in the issues of civil rights, anti-discrimination, and civic participation including working with the ACLU, the Arab American Institute and the National American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Dr. Basha joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week, Congress may act on President Obama’s request for authorization to bomb Syria.

Yesterday, a small group of protesters in Detroit rallied against military action.

They chanted “Money for Detroit, Not for War” as the roughly one hundred peace protesters walked down Woodward Avenue.

They want President Obama to drop his plan to bomb Syrian targets to punish the Syrian government for allegedly using chemical weapons on its own people.

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