Frederick Muslim groups collect money and clothing for Syrian refugees

Frederick Muslim groups collect money and clothing for Syrian refugeesimage

08 Oct 2015

As the United States prepares to accept increased numbers of Syrian refugees, some local Muslims say they are ready to help.

“We will be ready to take care of it,” said Syed Haque, president of the Frederick County Muslim Council.

About 4 million Syrians have registered as refugees, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, as they flee the civil war in their home country.

The Islamic Society of Frederick and the Frederick County Muslim Council have been collecting money and clothes for the refugees through the charity Helping Hand and other organizations, Haque said.

The groups sent money so that Syrian refugees could buy meat to celebrate Eid al-Adha.

Last month, the White House unveiled a plan to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., called on the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday to make the resettlement process more efficient.

Mikulski, along with six other senators, sent a letter to the department suggesting that it use video conferencing as an alternative to in-person interviews when appropriate. Video conferencing, the senator’s office said, would speed up the review process while making sure the refugees are thoroughly vetted.

Since 2010, Maryland has accepted 35 Syrian refugees, the vast majority of whom were relocated to Baltimore, according to the Refugee Processing Center, a State Department unit. The nation as a whole took in 1,900 Syrian refugees in that same time frame.

The records do not show that any Syrian refugees have settled in Frederick, but if they do arrive, it would not be the first time the county welcomed refugees.

About 380 Burmese fleeing Myanmar’s military junta settled in Frederick between 2004 and 2013.

The Baltimore-based International Rescue Committee, a group that helps refugees relocate, had a hand in locating Burmese in Frederick.

The group has no immediate plans to resettle Syrian refugees in the Frederick area, spokesman Kevin Meadowcroft said.

As of Tuesday, Frederick County Public Schools had not established a plan for accepting potential refugees, according to spokesman Michael Doerrer.

As the county waits to see if there will be any impact from the Syrian refugee crisis, the Islamic Society of Frederick is trying to keep the focus off politics and on helping people, manager Waleed Beidas said.

The masjid, the society’s preferred term for mosque, collects funds to help those in need in accordance with one of the pillars of Islam, zakat, or charity. That money, Beidas said, could be used in the event that Syrian refugees arrive in Frederick needing help.

“For anybody that comes in,” he said, “the door is open.”