July 21, 2019 | 83° F

Arab Cultural Club prepares to host banquet to help Syrian refugees

Rebel fighters carry their weapons as they head toward their positions in the town of Kafr Nabudah, in Hama province, Syria, on which forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are carrying out offensives to take control of the town, October 11, 2015. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

The Syrian refugee crisis has been an ongoing problem for the past couple of years, and has escalated over the past couple of months.

In order to help alleviate the situation, the Arab Cultural Club will host a banquet event in the Douglass Student Center’s Trayes Hall to assist Syrian refugees on Oct. 27. All proceeds from the banquet will be donated towards the relief effort.

“The reason why we decided to do a banquet is because we want to have discussions about the Syrian crisis, but we also want to have other events, such as screening a documentary about it," said Nourin Abubaker, president of The Arab Cultural Club.

The Syrian refugee crisis started as a direct result of the Syrian Civil War

The killing started in April 2011, when peaceful protests inspired by earlier revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia rose up to challenge the dictatorship running the country, according to The Washington Post. The Syrian government responded by killing activists and the families of activists. Eventually, Syrian troops started opening fire during protests. As time went by, civilians started to shoot back and fighting escalated from there to grow into a civil war.

Early last month, a 3-year-old Syrian boy washed up dead on a beach and brought the Syrian refugee crisis into world view, according to The Washington Post. He was identified as Aylan Kurdi in news reports.

“The media originally reported him as sleeping, but he was actually dead," Abubaker said. “The story with Aylan opened my eyes to the crisis. The image of his body in the water made me realize that this is a much bigger deal than I originally thought."

Kurdi was among the millions dead or on the run from the Islamic State’s continuing campaign of destruction in Syria and Iraq, according to The Washington Post. 

Since 2011, almost 12 million people, equivalent to half of the Syrian population, have been displaced by the conflict, including 7.6 million displaced inside Syria, according to the White House’s website. Last month, the White House announced the decision for the U.S. to accept up to 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. 

“Every year we do a different event for a different cause. This year we decided to do the charity event to help the Syrian refugees, as many of the people on our board are affected on at least a semi-personal level," said Nour Abraham, public relations chair of The Arab Cultural Club.

The Arab Cultural Club is motivated by more than the desire to be charitable. Some of the board members are particularly empathetic to the refugees and are Syrian themselves. Three of the board members are Syrian, Abubaker said.

“I’m a Syrian migrant, so the crisis hits me close to home. It’s a personal issue for me," Abraham said.

Once the cause was determined, the club chose to host a banquet after careful consideration. A banquet allows the club to open a conversation about the crisis with other University students.

“We could make it more personal for the students if we host a banquet, as opposed to other events, such as a bake sale. We want to educate students and discuss the crisis with them, and a banquet makes a lot of sense for that,” Abraham said.

Abubaker believes many people are apathetic and ignorant of international affairs. One of the goals of the banquet is to open the eyes of students and show them the crisis is important.

“Many people don’t really care about these issues or are unaware of the crisis. The incident with Aylan reminded people there has been a crisis in Syria for four years now,” Abubaker said.

The Arab Cultural Club is nevertheless optimistic regarding attendance for the event and is expecting roughly 250 students, Abraham said. Trayes Hall cannot hold more than 300 people for safety reasons, so the club does not expect to start denying guests.

“Maximum capacity for fire safety is 300, so we can’t have more than that. We are hoping to have numbers around the 250 and 270 range,” Abubaker said.

Connor McCarthy

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