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Islamic group salutes a Jewish agency for fighting Trump’s refugee ban

Islamic Relief USA honors HIAS with Courage Award over action against travel restrictions, and for ‘tireless work assisting refugees’

Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, welcomes hundreds to the Jewish Rally for Refugees in Battery Park, New York, on February 12, 2017. (Courtesy HIAS)
Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, welcomes hundreds to the Jewish Rally for Refugees in Battery Park, New York, on February 12, 2017. (Courtesy HIAS)

HIAS, a Jewish agency that resettles refugees in the United States, was honored by the humanitarian organization Islamic Relief USA for its “tireless work assisting refugees and for standing up against the refugee ban in the court of law.”

HIAS was among three organizations and six individuals who spearheaded the litigation against President Donald Trump’s executive orders temporarily banning refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. The orders, one in January and an amended one in March, triggered large protests, some organized by HIAS and other immigration advocacy groups.

Islamic Relief USA was one of the many organizations to join an amicus brief by religious organizations supporting HIAS’s litigation in opposition to the ban.

HIAS was honored Wednesday night with the Courage Award, at an interfaith iftar, the meal marking the end of the day’s Ramadan fast, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. HIAS president, Mark Hetfield, accepted the award presented by the CEO of Islamic Relief USA, Anwar Khan.

Activist Michele Freed joins other young professionals in front of the White House on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, to share stories of family members who were refugees or immigrants and wouldn’t be here if the U.S. hadn’t opened its doors to them. The action was organized by HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees. (Katie Jett Walls)
Activist Michele Freed joins other young professionals in front of the White House on March 1, 2017, to share stories of family members who were refugees or immigrants and wouldn’t be here if the US hadn’t opened its doors to them. The action was organized by HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees. (Katie Jett Walls)

“Welcoming immigrants, welcoming refugees. These are not ‘liberal values.’ These are traditional American values,” Khan said. He called on his audience to continue working together to make the world a better place.

Hetfield noted that both HIAS and Islamic Relief USA help people based on need, even as they are both driven by their faiths to do such work.

“All the Abrahamic faiths are united by the value of hospitality and welcoming the stranger as ourselves, for we were all once strangers in a strange land,” he said.

“When we welcome refugees to the United States, we consider them to be part of our family and our community, no matter what their faith is. This is because Jewish Americans are a refugee people — there would be no American Jewish community had America not had the courage to open its doors to refugees.”

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