St. Louisans march on Delmar, call on city to bring in Syrian refugees

Approximately 400 people gathered on Delmar Boulevard on Sunday evening for STL for Syria’s #BringThemHere march, which called for the government to accept as many Syrian refugees as possible into St. Louis.

Photos went viral in early September of a young Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach. The boy, along with his brother and mother, had drowned while trying to flee from Turkey to the Greek Island of Kos, sparking debate about immigration policies surrounding an ongoing and escalating Syrian refugee crisis.

As of late, City of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has been a staunch supporter of accepting Syrian refugees. On Sept. 10, Slay tweeted “New residents bring energy, talent. I strongly support efforts to increase the number of Syrian migrants in the U.S. #fgs.” President Barack Obama announced the same day that the U.S. would be accepting at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, in contrast to the roughly 1,500 refugees it has taken in this year.

Linah El Nashar, an Egyptian native and recent Saint Louis University graduate, spoke about the importance of the #BringThemHere movement.

“I have freedom to live, and I believe that everyone should get that same freedom,” El Nashar said. “ I don’t want to just take advantage of it and be happy on my own. I want everyone else to get it, too. That’s why I’m here.”

The rally-goers waved American flags and sported signs with statements such as, “Compassion is not optional” and “#STL4Syria.” Forest Marks, a local seminary student, was handing out informational pamphlets to the crowd and echoed El Nashar’s sentiments on the importance of the march.

“It’s crucial to get justice for the victims, and any little way we can help is worth it,” Marks said. “We kind of live in a bubble. Most people are more concerned with what Kim Kardashian is up to on the runway. This march, we’re making [people aware].”

The event officially began at 5:30 p.m. with various chants, including “Bring them here!” and “Syrian people who lost their land, here with you we will stand.” After the chanting, Faizan Syed, executive director of the St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, gave instructions to the crowd as to the direction of the march.

#BringThemHere plans to hold an organizing meeting on Saturday, Oct. 3 to plan further action.

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Alex SiegmanComment