An Apology to Aleppo

A boy carries a bag of bread in al-Rai town, northern Aleppo, Syria December 25, 2016. © Khalil Ashawi / Reuters

A boy carries a bag of bread in al-Rai town, northern Aleppo, Syria December 25, 2016. © Khalil Ashawi / Reuters

I received an email from a friend from Aleppo. He works in Northern Iraq, serving the Yazidi refugee population who have been brutally displaced by ISIS, but he travels back home to Aleppo often to care for his family. He is gentle, devout, intelligent, and altruistic. The following is an excerpt from his email:

"Dear Stephan. What the hell is going on in US?! I am now so concerned and fearful of the future of Syrians and the world more than ever before. I hope that what I see on news is just a nightmare! Aleppo is becoming destroyed more and more day by day but hopefully, since we moved to our village which is close to the Turkish border in the north and west of Aleppo, my family can live in peace, relatively, as the village is controlled by SDF and YPG, who recruit children (under 18) to go for military. We all hope and pray to find a better life and get Syria back like before, peaceful and beautiful."

Somehow I believed the Administration wouldn't follow through with their threat to ban refugees. Surely the President would have, by now, met with several Syrian families from among the several thousand fathers, mothers and children we so valiantly embraced as a nation, their smiles reminding us of our own stories of refuge and immigration?  Our new President would have most definitely followed Bena on Twitter as she recounted her story of harrowing escape from Aleppo, the world hanging on to her every word, praying, hoping, believing she could live another day? And by now his Counselors would have explained who the victims are, and who the perpetrators are; that the number of Christian refugees admitted to the US in 2016 was about the same number as Muslim refugees, and; that Christians in Syria have ironically found a measure of protection under Assad's dictatorship, thus the reason for more Muslims victims than Christians so far? Surely our President is reasonable and wouldn't make policy that will further destabilize the Middle East and potentially expose us to more threat, not less?

To my friends in Aleppo, please forgive us. We know not what we do.