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Detroit's Syrians show support for President Obama, US military strike

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

As Congress prepares to debate a plan of action in Syria—and President Obama tries to build support for a US military strike--Metro Detroit’s Syrian community is showing their support for American intervention.

Dozens of Syrian-Americans protested President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in suburban Detroit Friday.

The group gathered in Birmingham’s Shain Park waved American flags, along with the green, white black and red banner of the Syrian revolution.

They also held signs picturing atrocities committed by the forces of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad—culminating in a recent alleged chemical weapons attack.

Wael Hakmeh told the crowd these atrocities amount to genocide. And he had this message for his friends who say they “just want peace.”

“We’ve had over 100,000 Syrians die,” Hekmeh said.  “And if we maintain the status quo, only more people will die.”

Not all Syrian-Americans support US military strikes, though. Some fear it will lead to more civilian deaths, escalate the conflict and further de-stabilize the region.

But Ibrahim Alkeilani said he thinks those fears are misguided.

“US inaction translates to more extremism on the street, because people are going to seek protection,” Alkeilani said. “And from whomever it comes, people are going to accept it. We want this protection and help to come from the United States, so that extremists are pushed aside.”

Metro Detroit has one of the country’s oldest and largest Syrian communities.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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