Members of Midcoast Friends Meeting urge Americans to welcome Syrian refugees into our country, communities and homes.

We have been impressed by the caring, humanitarian response and courage of countries willing to take in nearly 1 million refugees. One-quarter of these refugees fled the misery of camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where over 3 million still languish. We need to respond with the same care, courage and commitment.

Four months ago, Americans were shocked by the photo of a drowned 3-year-old boy on a beach in Turkey. Today, compassion has given way to fears that terrorists will be embedded among refugees coming to the U.S.

Remember that, apart from one terrorist in the Paris attacks, those killers were French and Belgian citizens. Their terrorism was born in depressed urban communities in Paris and Brussels and fueled by ethnic and sectarian inequities.

We know that fear will lead to serious moral and political failures and dangerous misunderstandings. We fail to remember that U.S. military interventions have devastated lives and communities in Iraq and Afghanistan, enhancing the rise of virulent anti-American jihadi groups such as the Islamic State.

The more we treat Syrian refugees as security threats, the more we reinforce jihadi assertions of the West’s indifference to Muslim suffering. Fear-based attitudes also alienate American Muslims, breeding violent responses.

Anti-refugee and anti-Muslim attitudes underlie Congress’ attempt to block the entry of Syrian refugees, as well as Gov. LePage’s pledge to do everything in his power to prevent relocation of refugees to Maine.

We urge our governor, legislators and fellow citizens of Maine to look beyond their fears and to support a humanitarian response to Syrian refugees.

James Matlack

clerk, Midcoast Friends Meeting