National News

Donations pour in to local Islamic center

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Amid discussions over President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban from seven predominately Islamic countries, donations are pouring in to help refugee families in the Tri-Cities.

The Islamic Center of Tri-cities located on the 2900 block of Bombing Range Road in West Richland is a resource for more than 500 families and 1,500 Muslims, according to its website.

About a dozen community members of different faiths showed up to the center Monday to deliver home goods.

It started with Meaghan Goldman and Carolyn John of Richland, who brought flowers and sign reading “You Make America Great.” They then rallied friends and neighbors to bring in donations of toys, kitchenware, and food.

“I believe that America stands for inclusion,” Laura Newberry of Richland said. “Just understand where they're coming from, [and] maybe we can not be so divided in this nation.”

Hamada Mohamed ElSehmawy agrees. He is a religious leader at the local Islamic center from Egypt, who says America and the Tri-Cities have treated him well.

He said donations brought in to the Islamic center go to the 50-100 refugee families of various faiths living in the Tri-City area.

“The relation here between Muslims and other religions [is] so great,” ElSehmawy said.

As volunteers carried donations across the parking lot Monday, ElSehmawy stopped one with a warm embrace. Doak Mansfield, minister of the Community Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasco, greeted ElSehmawy as an old friend.

“My faith tells me that love has to precede fear,” Mansfield said. “And there's no reason these people have to be refused entry.”

Some who showed up expressed more explicit criticism of President Trump’s executive order.

“It was clearly an attack on religious liberty of people who have a legal right to be in this country,” said Doug McKinley of Richland.

The ban blocks most immigrants and travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sundan, Syria, and Yemen. However, as of Tuesday morning, the U.S. government announced the admittance of 872 refugees because of hardship concerns, despite the ban.

According to the president, overall travel limitations aim to protect Americans from countries with links to terrorism.