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The refugee crisis in Syria is challenging the most basic of our human values — that of valuing human life regardless of race, nationality or faith. The tragedies that we are witnessing on TV, the images of the homeless and helpless refugees desperate to find a space of hope, are very painful to watch. The recent image of the 3-year-old Syrian child who drowned at sea shocked the conscience of the world. This tragedy reminded us all of our humanity and our collective responsibility toward some of the worst crises of this century.

This acute refugee crisis facing the world presents us with the collective challenge of helping those in dire need of help. Those who are forced to leave their countries and homes are indeed in a dire situation with all kinds of needs. We are facing a humanitarian crisis that requires a humanitarian reaction and not reactions based on political calculations.

Let us rise to the challenge that his holiness Pope Francis put before us — to host and welcome refugee families. The pope’s timely message of hope and humanity presents us with the challenge of helping our brothers and sisters in humanity regardless of all kinds of differences we might have with them. The pope’s message is further evidence of the importance of religious voices like the pope’s in advancing and promoting human rights around the world.

Michigan, a state in which thousands have demonstrated in support of justice overseas and protest unjust policies, these thousands are challenged to provide a helping hand to these refugees. We need to open our hearts, our homes, our minds to help the victims of war, regardless of our politics and political preferences.

The crises in the Middle East are divisive and naturally the Michigan Arab and Muslim community is divided as well over the events there. But it is humanity that unites us at the most basic and most decent level. We should open our hearts and homes to all and those who can should answer the call of Pope Francis to open our homes to the refugees. Pope Francis is a prime example of religion advancing human rights and helping us human beings listen to our better angels.

As we watch with shock and dismay the agony of helpless people risking life and limb to reach safety, we are reminded of the true blessings that we enjoy in America, a country that provides hope and a better future to millions of people. It is incumbent upon us who enjoy the blessings of ordered liberty to embrace our common humanity and help make this world a better world for all. We can be a part of the solution

Imad Hamad, executive director,

American Human Rights Council

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