Fear Cancels Mosque Plans to Offer Sanctuary for Immigrants

TEXAS – A Cincinnati mosque has been forced to cancel its plan to open doors to shelter asylum seekers or migrants in need, be they Muslims or not, feeling the heat of anti-Muslim sentiments.

“I think the tools that have been employed against immigrants are the same tools that have been employed against refugees, which are the same tools that have been employed against the Muslim community as a whole, which is the dehumanization — the ‘otherizing’ — that allows people to subconsciously accept this idea that we somehow do not deserve the same level of dignity and respect and liberty that everybody else does,” Imam Omar Suleiman, the founder and president of the Yaqueen Institute for Islamic Research near Dallas, Texas, told NPR.

Immediately after President Donald Trump’s election, the mosque said they would be opening their doors to shelter refugees and asylum seekers.

Suleiman was one of the people calling for mosques to join the sanctuary movement in response to increased deportation.

Three weeks after the election, they backed off from the plan of providing shelter within the mosque.

“So I think that announcing yourself as a sanctuary has its implications, whether you’re a mosque, a church, a synagogue, or anything,” Suleiman added, referring to mosque burnings after the election.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to ban Muslims from entering the United States. He also promised to build a wall on the Mexican border and deport illegal Latino immigrants.

Suleiman warned that Muslims are already under a lot of scrutinies and an additional layer to that could exacerbate something that is already an issue and endanger both the Muslim and the Latino communities.

“The idea here is that the goal of the sanctuary is to provide safety, and if we cannot provide emotional, physical safety, then it would sort of be defeating the purpose,” Suleiman says.

“You know, there are other ways to express solidarity and support but announcing your particular mosque as a sanctuary could potentially endanger that particular Muslim community and then obviously the immigrants themselves that would seek shelter would be under that intensified scrutiny.”