Refugee Resettlement In Harrisonburg

Brent Finnegan -- August 12th, 2007

In Saturday’s paper, there’s an article about Iraqi refugees coming through the resettlement program to Harrisonburg, via the Virginia Council of Churches. I’m actually surprised that I haven’t posted anything about that program before.

For about a year, I lived right next door to some Turkish-looking people who spoke no English. They would occasionally knock on my door and offer me produce from their garden, or a loaf of freshly-baked flat bread, which I always took, as I attempted to make some international gesture of gratitude. I went to some online translation site to learn how to say “thank you” in Turkish. The next time they came over, I repeated it as accurately I could, and all I got was a blank stare and a polite nod.

At last year’s International Festival, I mentioned my experience to a volunteer from the VCC, and she said, “Oh, they’re probably Ahiska Turks.”

Indeed, they were. Ahiska Turks are part of the Anatolian Turks — a group of people exiled and unwelcomed for the last 80 years between Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and many of the countries ending in “stan.” Ahiska Muslims have been coming to the east coast of the US through refugee programs, resettling in small cities like H’burg over the last several years.

At least one of them here in town likes to post music video photo montages on YouTube.


15 Responses to “Refugee Resettlement In Harrisonburg”

  1. Marty says:

    Yeah, I have a family living next to me. They’re nice people, except they planted a bunch of trees on our property line and haven’t watered them in 6 months…but other than that, they’re ok.

  2. JGFitzgerald says:

    I wonder what “thank you” in Turkish means in Ahiska?

  3. eso says:

    According to a Pew center survey, 1 in 4 of 18-29 yr olds American muslims think suicide bombing in defense of “islam” is just dandy. Why would we want any more here?

  4. David Troyer says:

    great citing of sources, eso. I can’t find that anywhere on the pew research website.

  5. David Troyer says:

    found it.

    15% of Muslim Americans under age 30 … believe
    that suicide bombings can be often or sometimes justified in the
    defense of Islam.”

  6. David Troyer says:

    I would be interested to see what action 18-29 year old American Christians would think is often or sometimes justified in defense of Christianity. Just a thought.

    Probably shouldn’t have said that, oh well.

  7. JGFitzgerald says:

    I’m a lot less concerned about how many of any group think suicide bombing is justified than I am in how many would actually do it. Tell me that’s a high percentage and I’ll start to sweat.

    Until then, I’ll cite the first paragraph of the Pew study: “The … survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.”

  8. eso says:

    The report got so much press when released in late May/early June I thought it was common knowledge.

    page 60 (It’s a complex table so I won’t try to paste it )

    They Pew report relies on self identification as muslims. They mention Nation of islam (noi) in their faqs and don’t seem to exclude them. The muslims I know don’t consider noi as muslims. (Like being not politically correct, that is something to be proud of) There are some questions where they break the answers out of black americans, I wonder if thats because of the influence of noi?

  9. finnegan says:

    eso, first you say, “Why would we want any more here?” and then say “The muslims I know don’t consider noi as muslims.”

    I’d be interested to know how many Muslims you actually “know” and what your interaction with them has been . My experience here has been almost entirely positive.

    What negative personal interactions with the Muslims you “know” would prompt you to say “Why would we want any more here?” And how do you define “know,” because I lived right next door to a Muslim family for a year, saw them on a daily basis, interacted with them, yet I still wouldn’t say that I know them.

  10. David Miller says:


    Thank you for using references to make a point, though I’m still not sure what that point is.

    My position is this; the research that the PEW Institute has done shows that only 1% of educated Muslims in the US view Al Qaeda as favorable. Education erases ignorance and hopefully with that, hate. The question that was posed to 18-30 year olds was what? The conclusion was “15% of Muslim Americans under age 30 believe that suicide bombings can be often or sometimes justified in the defense of Islam.” The question to this conclusion was WHAT? If a foreign power invaded your country, blew up your churches, killed your Ministers, Priests, Rabbis; then would suicide bombings be an acceptable means of defending your religion?

    The question that I pose is this, what are we discussing? We all know that the US foreign policy is pissing off the world population. Piss them off though is mild, we are infuriating them, killing them in their homes, telling them how to run their own country. WTF are we discussing, that some Muslims within our own country are well aware of our disastrous foreign policy and mad about it? Duh

  11. finnegan says:

    Quick plug for one of my favorite TV shows — if you have some free time, watch this.

  12. Emmy says:

    Oh thanks for that Finnegan! I love that show, but almost never get to see it. The 30 days with an illegal immigrant was good too.

  13. Josh says:

    Excellent episode! Thanks for passing this along.

  14. eso says:

    Thanks. Even though we usually disagree, I find your posts and references (links) interesting and thought provoking. I am old enough that I like to hold any long articles I read in my hands instead of scrolling down a screen, but I have bookmarked the Mother Jones one on immigration and will read it when I get some down time. I’ve never heard of 30 days before.

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