Mormons March for Muslims joins Utah March for refugees

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Marchers gather in front of the Utah State Capitol to show support for Muslims and refugees Saturday, Feb. 4. (Ryan Turner)
Marchers gather in front of the Utah State Capitol to show support for Muslims and refugees on Saturday, Feb. 4. (Ryan Turner)

SALT LAKE CITY – Hundreds of Mormons, Muslims and refugee supporters of all faiths gathered to show support for refugees and Muslims at the combined Mormons March for Muslims and Utah March for Refugees on Saturday, Feb. 4.

The two groups joined together deciding their cause was one and the same.

The crowd chanted, “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here” as they marched from the Wallace Bennett Federal Building to the Utah State Capitol.

“We want our lawmakers to know that our community is one of love and that we will not turn away our Muslim brothers and sisters when many would have them feel unwanted,” said the Mormons March for Muslims Facebook page.

Protesters march from the (Ryan Turner)
Protesters march from the Wallace Bennett Federal Building to the Utah State Capitol. (Ryan Turner)

American Muslim Arisha Papa said she is not a refugee but wanted to join the march to set an example for her children on how to sympathize and show support and solidarity toward all refugees.

“There really isn’t any reason for (refugees) to feel any exclusion for their faith, and no one should be feeling excluded at this point because we are a country of immigrants,” Papa said. “How do you exclude people who have done everything to make the fiber of this country strong?”

She said she felt love and support from the Mormon community as a Muslim at the march.

“I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘I’m here for you; we’re here for you,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m here for you, too. I’m American; we are in this together,’” Papa said.

Annalise Keen, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from England in 1868, marched to spread awareness that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, an interagency program that screens and admits refugees, is a very safe and effective system and should not be shut down.

“It’s an effort between the U.S. Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services,” Keen said. “The refugees that are coming here have been in the system for at least 18 to 24 months doing screenings and interviews. They’re totally safe to be here, but a lot of good people are turned away.”

Keen hopes that President Donald Trump will reevaluate his decision.

“Maybe he could have some realization that the program is good and get people to be less afraid of refugees,” she said. “There really is no reason to be afraid of this program.”

American Muslim Wagma Mohmand said the Mormons March for Muslims and Utah March for Refugees were huge successes.

“Just seeing the numbers, it’s something that I can go home and feel good about on my days where I feel like politics are bad and things are horrible in the world,” Mohmand said. “I can leave here knowing that they are my brothers and sisters who stand by me.”

Mohmand said she wants Trump to know that Americans come from all walks of life and all backgrounds.

“We are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist — all religions, all cultures, all backgrounds,” Mohmand said. “I’d like to let the newly arrived immigrants and refugees know that we Americans support them.”