US town holds pro-refugee rally following Donald Trump victory

'Fear may run the White House, but it will not run our Community'

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A US town has held a rally to welcome refugees following Donald Trump’s election victory.

Neighbours in Charleston, West Viriginia say they want to send a strong message in light of anti-immigrant and refugee rhetoric during the US presidential campaign. 

Concerned residents formed the group ‘West Virginia Welcomes’ and gathered along Kanawha Boulevard for their ‘Virigina Welcomes Refugees Rally’. A Facebook page advertising the event urged locals to: “Bring signs, bring your neighbours, bring your big hearts. Goodwill will always rise over evil. Together we are a stronger nation.” 

Organisers wrote: “We must come together after this election and show our love for our refugee brothers and sisters, for our Muslim family, for immigrants, for black lives, for LGBTQ neighbors, and for our daughters, sisters, wives and all the women in our lives.

“Fear may run the White House, but it will not run our Community. We must bring love and compassion once again out of the shadow and show how much love we have for our neighbours in West Viriginia.”

Wama Shaalon attended the rally with a sign stating ‘WV welcomes refugees with open arms’ and told WV Metro News: “I think standing up for our refugees that are in a war-torn country is a very important thing because I would like to think that if we were in the same place that they would accept us like we are accepting them.”

Noorda Shan, a local high school student, said she feared Mr Trump’s posturing about building a wall along the border with Mexico: “That’s not what America is all about. America is about freedom and diversity.”

Others reportedly carried banners with statements including “Love Trumps Hate”.

Residents in the town also held a rally last year calling for Syrian refugees to be accepted, following the Paris terror attacks.

Following the election result, a spike of hate crimes has been reported in the US, including alleged racist, Islamophobic and homophobic attacks. One woman said said she was shopping in a local Wallmart the day after the election when another woman approached, pulled off her hijab and said: “This is not allowed anymore, so go hang yourself with it around your neck not on your head.” A black woman in Indiana said passersby shouted “F*** you n***** b****. Trump is going to deport you back to Africa.”

Following the reports, a spokesperson for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations told The Independent there were “tremendous levels of fear given the anti-Muslim rhetoric we have seen from Donald Trump during this campaign”.

“This rhetoric is nothing new,” he added. “What is new is how far he has gone with it. That is the shocking thing.”

After Mr Trump's election victory was announced, a number of protests and rallies have been held across the US, including by protestors who have surrounded Trump Towers and other properties connected to the businessman.