Letter: Leeza Ahmed, South Riding

Editor: Scrolling through the news articles, all I feel is sorrow. Instead of people being valued and understood, the invisible borders of misunderstanding, apathy, and hatred are rising. 

Turkey, Russia, Austria, and France have explicitly stated they will not be accepting Afghan refugees. These countries have all forgotten that there is no guarantee that they will not be placed in a similar situation as the refugees, desperate for help.

Past every single form of identity, we are all biologically human and we are social creatures. Our identities in the social world? Mother, father, son, daughter, cousin, friend, relative, neighbor. These identities exist in every person, every home, every neighborhood, every state, and, most importantly, in every country. The question is: Will the world understand quickly enough that all refugees are just distortions in the mirror in another setting? Not only is every refugee similar to you, it means every refugee, one who is forced to leave their home because of burning holes in their safety, is similar to each other.

When will the connection be made that those seeking safety from the southern border, from Afghanistan, or from anywhere else all deserve help and emphasis from the world? In the words of His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, “The disorder and corruption widespread in the world today have distressed every peace-loving person. Everyone with sympathy and compassion towards humanity is astonished and worried about the current state of affairs in the world.”

It is sad that these words are from 2015, yet still relevant today. My only hope is that we look toward these people with a sense of empathy, understanding, and a will to help.

Leeza Ahmed, South Riding

6 thoughts on “Letter: Leeza Ahmed, South Riding

  • 2021-09-28 at 8:24 pm
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    So largely Muslim people from Afghanistan have to flee an incredibly barbaric Islamic group intent on creating and Islamic Caliphate under Sharia. Why aren’t more of the neighboring countries and wealthy Muslim countries nearby taking in more of these refugees?

    Why does this obligation have to fall on Turkey, Russia, Austria, and France or any other western nation? Why aren’t the governments of Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States taking more of these people?

  • 2021-09-28 at 9:32 pm
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    When people who enter this country go back to doing so with the best intentions, such as coming here and being a contributing member of society, being loyal to THIS country and not the one they left, and taking pride in being an American, then your heart won’t heart anymore.
    When my grandparents came here, they did so with full hearts and saw it as a chance to work, learn the language, and live the true American dream- which they did.
    Somewhere along the way, people started flooding into this country for the FREE and not the FREEDOM, all they want are handouts and they do not want to work for what they get, and then they wave the flags of other countries and express their loyalties to the countries they left, not this country. That is a the big difference between then and now.

    • 2021-10-01 at 12:45 am
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      John,

      With all due respect, many flee here for safety and the hope of a better future that was no longer available in their war torn countries. Their hearts are in two places at the same time — their home country and their current country. We need to acknowledge and accept that.

      I taught Conversations for ESOL Adults for years at the public library helping residents practice their English and make new friends. We shared, we talked, and I listened. The heartbreak is real when people have to leave behind their home and family to come here. They want to try and be part of the workforce and community. They don’t understand why people aren’t friendlier and more grateful for all that they have here. Including stable electricity and water.

      I think we get out of touch the more we view our diverse culture as someone to assimilate here and be like everyone else. I am actually grateful for the many different cultures here so we can expand our perspectives, not limit them. I miss teaching and listening to the adults here wanting to build a better future for their children. But I will ALWAYS respect the culture they were raised and listen to the customs and holidays and celebrations that come with being part of a global community.

      So many Americans can’t get along, why should we want refugees to conform to our standards? Perhaps we can learn more from them and stop taking so much of what we have for granted and teach our children to make new friends of many different cultures. That is how we make the WORLD a better place. Getting to know our neighbors and treating them with respect instead of absolute self absorption is a great way to show children what being an American is. Culture, character, and connection are all vital elements we must nurture and promote — not judge and condemn.

  • 2021-09-29 at 8:22 am
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    Immigrants are the lifeblood of our nation.

    Orderly, controlled immigration is the key to ensuring a fair process for all who would like to come here. The current (D) administration has failed the American people and those who want to join us here in these United States.

    The southern border is tragic disaster. Topped only by Biden’s (D) criminally-negligent withdrawal from Afghanistan. The American people need to know what processes are in place to ensure that those fleeing Afghanistan are deserving of this privilege. Are there are controls in place, or is this a chaotic free-for-all?

    Americans deserve better.
    Lawful immigrants and asylum seekers deserve better.

  • 2021-10-01 at 12:34 am
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    Leeza Ahmed, South Riding – Beautifully said. I have seen many in Dulles and beyond come together to help those that are transitioning from Afghanistan and creating new lives in America. It is a scary and uncertain journey that requires compassion, courage, and yes…. definitely empathy.

    Before and after August 31st, I saw many communities coming together to help. I saw businesses create regular collection events and another family business across from Dulles Expo able to use their warehouse to ship supplies to the bases around America. I couldn’t be more proud of the Afghanistan community for putting their hearts out there and many businesses, including Dulles Closet and ADAMS Center, working together to accomplish many goals to help families create a new life in America and start healing together.

    We can’t leave people behind and what happened was heartbreaking, it still is. The veteran community is hurting a lot about it as well. But the beautiful hearts and souls I have met at the ADAMS Center and beyond give me hope. I will continue to help to the best of my ability, to welcome all Afghanistan refugees into America and will happily continue to collect and distribute donations for the bases around the country. It is together work and together we can create a beautiful AND ACCEPTING environment for our new neighbors. The refugees deserve our respect and deserve the dignity and integrity of keeping our promises to look out for them now that we have so many new neighbors and friends.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, you are in mine as well. Please reach out to share how we can help more together. Nobody should feel alone, we must collaborate as a nation to welcome our Afghanistan allies into America as both friends and neighbors.

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