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Rally Showing Solidarity With Immigrants, Muslims, Refugees Held In Oakland

OAKLAND (KDKA) -- A rally was held in Oakland on Saturday afternoon so Pittsburghers could show their solidarity with immigrants, Muslims and refugees.

The rally was co-organized by multiple local organizations, in response to President Donald Trump's executive order to start "extreme vetting" of refugees.

President Trump's order suspends entry of refugees to the United States for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocks entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Saturday night, a judge blocked part of the order. 

In a release, the rally is described as "an action to show Trump that we stand with our neighbors, no matter their race, nationality or religion."

The nearly 1,000 in attendance brought signs that read, "Love thy neighbor," "We will defend each other," "Bridges not walls," "stop profiling Muslims," and "No ban, no wall!"

Nadia Elamin said the order hits home because her husband plans to come to Pittsburgh from Sudan, one of the countries on the list.

"I feel it's my right as an American citizen to be with my husband and have him come to the U.S. with me, this executive order puts a roadblock and I'm going to protest because it's my right," she said.

Many believe the ban will not help to keep terrorists out of the country.

"There's no data or statistics to support that immigrants or refugees do anything dangerous at all, the security professionals and experts have said that," Wasi Mohammed with the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh said.

"There's not a single person from Iran who has committed any terrorist act in the U.S. In the past fifteen, twenty years," protester Safdar Khwaja said.

Community organizers and citizen activists led the rally. Speakers from local immigrant and refugee were present, as well as members of the Thomas Merton Center, which calls itself "Pittsburgh's Peace and Social Justice Center," and Casa San Jose, a resource center that helps local Latino communities.

The rally took place at 2 p.m. at Schenley Plaza, on the corner of Forbes Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard.

Saturday evening, Governor Wolf arrived at Philadelphia Airport, and told immigrants being detained "you are welcome here."

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto vowed not to keep silent about the order.

"It's rather interesting that we were a country founded by Europeans coming in to escape religious persecution and today we become a country that's targeting religious organizations and denying them the ability to come back to their own country," he said.

Mohamed said there are more effective ways to prevent terrorism.

"If you want to make people have a love for this country, you make sure you stand up for values.  Things that make America great, lets actually do that," Mohammed said.

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