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3 things President Obama said about refugees that we all need to hear.

Speaking from the G-20 summit, President Obama appealed to our duty as human beings.

3 things President Obama said about refugees that we all need to hear.

In the wake of Friday's deadly attacks in Paris, some political leaders are responding by taking staunch anti-refugee positions.

Several governors across the U.S. have declared that they will not accept Syrian refugees being relocated to their states.


Although, as Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress points out, governors don't actually have the authority to override the federal government and deny entry to refugees. Even so, the anti-refugee sentiment is far from uncommon, and that's worrisome.


On Monday, during a nearly 50-minute press conference, President Obama came to the refugees' defense.

Appearing at the G-20 conference in Turkey, the president kept coming back to the importance of not taking out the world's anger following the Paris attacks on innocent refugees.

On that topic, his comments came down to these three basic points.

1. Many refugees are victims of terrorism. They are not, themselves, terrorists.

Why are refugees fleeing places like Syria in the first place? They flee because what happened in Paris is a fairly common experience for those living in the war-torn country.


GIFs via the White House/YouTube.

If refugees are fleeing terrorism and we turn them away because of terrorism, we're sending them back to a place where what happened in Paris happens with much more frequency and much less global attention.

2. It's not fair to equate Islam with terrorism, and conflating the two will only make things worse.

"The overwhelming majority of victims of terrorism over the last several years — and certainly the overwhelming majority of victims of ISIL — are themselves Muslims," the president said.

"Those kinds of stereotypes are counterproductive, they're wrong. They will lead, I think, to greater recruitment into terrorist organizations over time if this becomes somehow defined as a Muslim problem as opposed to a terrorist problem."

3. We have a duty, as Americans and as human beings, to take in refugees.

"They are parents, they are children, they are orphans. It is important ... that we do not close our hearts to these victims," said the president.

"When I hear folks say, 'Maybe we should just admit the Christians, but not the Muslims,' when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who's fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks, themselves, come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution," Obama said, before continuing bluntly:

While the debate over what to do about the world's refugees will inevitably rage on, let's hope empathy — not hate — wins.

"The values that we are fighting against ISIL for are precisely that we don't discriminate against people because of their faith," Obama said today. "We don't kill people because they're different than us. That's what separates us from them. And we don't feed that kind of notion that somehow Christians and Muslims are at war."

You can watch the president's entire press conference from the G-20 summit in Turkey below:

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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