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'Integration means you are Syrian and now you're Irish as well'

A welcome reception for Syrian refugees is being held in Blanchardstown today.

An elderly Syrian refugee man walks back to his shelter on a frozen ground at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers north of Athens.
An elderly Syrian refugee man walks back to his shelter on a frozen ground at the refugee camp of Ritsona about 86 kilometers north of Athens.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

A WELCOME RECEPTION will held for Syrian refugees in Blanchardstown today, with its organiser saying both sides can help the integration process.

Shaykh Dr. Umar Al-Qadri, Head Imam of the Islamic Centre, said that the Irish nation is known for its generosity and warm welcome but this can change if the refugees do not integrate in the society. He told TheJournal.ie that Irish people can welcome refugees in practical ways.

“Practically speaking, there are already some in Ireland like community groups and church groups, who are doing great things.

“I think local people could start meetings – in churches, GAA halls, community centres – you could welcome them into your house for dinner or show them the local shopping centre.”

Al-Qadri says real integration can make Irish society stronger and ward off extremism.

“If people wanted to be proactive, they could contact us here in the mosques or the refugee centres, because that’s where refugees spend their days. That is important because integration doesn’t happen in centres, it happens in the streets. Personally, I’m not aware of the government integration procedure and that is worrying. They should have engaged with the likes of ourselves.

We want these people to know they are welcome here. Irish society is a plural society and we want that to continue, but we also want them to know that they have to give back to that community that is welcoming them.

“I think seeing that welcome will inspire refugees and show them that integration does not mean you have to leave your identity behind. It means you are Syrian and now you’re Irish as well. I try to teach them that the Prophet says you must love your homeland and love the country that has welcomed you twice as much.”

The event will take place at 1pm in the Islamic Centre of Ireland today. Each Syrian refugee family will also be introduced to a host family who will support them in their resettlement and integration in Ireland. The Syrian refugees will also be presented with gifts and donations.

Read: ‘This is a farce’: Anger as TD ‘left in the dark over refugee centre’

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