NC businesses post signs saying, ‘Refugees welcome here’

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Dozens of businesses across the Triangle are trying to change the national conversation about Muslims and Syrian refugees.

About 50 businesses in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough have hung signs such as “Refugees are Welcome Here” and “Stop Profiling Muslims,” according to the Jewish Voices for Peace, the organization that has passed out the signs to businesses.

Barbara Williams of Blalock’s Barber Shop in Downtown Raleigh said she decided to join the discussion because growing up she was taught to never turn a blind eye to those in need.

“Everybody’s not a murderer, everybody’s not a killer, everybody’s not bad,” said Williams. “People just deserve a chance.”

Her business is one of the dozens across the Triangle who has hung similar signs in their windows. The signs call for tolerance and for an end to religious profiling.

“These businesses are doing a great thing, we thank them so much,” said Mohamed Elgamal of the Islamic Association of Raleigh. “It doesn’t matter from where you are, whether it’s Syria or Mexico or from anywhere else. We as Americans are here to support the people who really need help.”

The debate escalated in North Carolina when Gov. Pat McCrory announced he was asking the federal government to not send any more Syrian refugees to the state. He is one of 27 governors to call on the country to improve the vetting process following the November 2015 Paris attacks.

“My primary duty as governor is to protect the citizens of North Carolina, which is why I’m taking these steps and making this request of the president today,” McCrory said in November.

While business owners like Williams say they agree with a strict vetting process, she says that a country built on tolerance has no room for an out-right ban.

“We’ve been in this shop since 1977. It’s survived, it’s made it. We’ve watched businesses come and go and I believe we’ve made it on the analogy that you’ve got to treat everyone equal,” said Williams. “You’ve got to treat everyone like they’re somebody, and they are.”

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