Syrian refugee families in Indiana share stories Friday, Kassig family speaks in support

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 11, 2015) - For the first time, Syrian refugees living in Indiana are speaking out about Governor Mike Pence’s decision to suspend the Syrian Refugee Resettlement program in Indiana.

An event was organized Friday by local religious organizations at the Epworth United Methodist Church in Indianapolis to help dispel any fear associated with the families.

Among their supporters was Paula and Ed Kassig, the parents of Indy native Abdul-Rahman Kassig who was killed by ISIS one year ago.

In total more than 100 Hoosiers came to show their support for three families of Syrian refugees who now call Indianapolis home.

“Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,” said the Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Chruch in a prayer vigil Friday.

“Look around… This is the Indiana we want the people of the world to know and see,” said Ed Kassig.

Paula and Ed Kassig both spoke in support of allowing Syrian refugees back into Indiana.

“We want everyone to know that we are not here because of the Kassig family. Tonight, we asked to be allowed to speak for another family… the human family,” said Paula Kassig.

Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig was captured while working to help Syrian refugees. His parents are now advocating for those same refugees to be given asylum in his home state of Indiana.

“Keep your hearts open to those who could use a leg up. You will strengthen America as you welcome the newcomers,” said Paula.

“There was no life in Syria. Our life was totally in danger, you could have died at any moment, we didn’t have life until the moment we arrived here,” said the translator for the Batman family.

The Batmans consist of a mother, father, and four children. They arrived in Indianapolis, their new forever home, from Syria one year ago. After escaping the civil war there, the family spent a year and a half interviewing with the United Nations in Lebanon. Another year was spent interviewing at the United States Embassy in Beirut before they were told Indianapolis would be their new home.

When asked what he thought about the suspension of the Syrian Refugee Resettlement program in his new home, Batman translator replied, “He felt the people who are trying to escape that war will have no place to go and he just started to think about what they’re going to have to go through, either drown in the sea or go back and die in their towns.”

Governor Mike Pence was invited to Friday’s event. A representative from his office told reporters he had already made arrangements for this evening and had to decline.

Organizers of Friday’s event have requested a meeting with the Governor and these Syrian refugee families. There is no word on if he will accept the offer.