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Afghan Americans Rally Support for Refugees at Demonstration in Concord

CONCORD (KPIX) -- A rally was held in Concord Saturday, organized by Afghan Americans who are asking the U.S. government for time to get more people out of that country.

They're also pushing to help settle refugees who have got out and the mayor of Concord was on hand speaking to that issue as well.

"I mean at this point in time, we do we know that we have a number of families that are here, that are being able to sponsor and allow people to come and live in their homes," said Mayor Tim McGallian. "But anything beyond that we don't know yet. We do know that we're going to try to help commit to jobs and finding people some type of employment and be able to help them get into society here. But there's a lot of unknowns."

McGallian was talking about his city's role in helping refugees but he also said he wanted to show support for the local Afghan community.

"The pain that everyone is feeling right now ... everyone in general, just any human being, we are all in pain together," said rally organizer Mariam Fazli. "And we are all in shock together and we're feeling very helpless."

That helplessness is driven largely by the inability to get more people out of danger.

"While we would love to help them, the thing that we can do, absolutely, is something here locally. So that those are finding their way to America and safe shores, we can support them to get on their feet and support the agencies that are helping them get on their feet," said Abdul Popal, owner of iniBurger.

Popal is donating a portion of the proceeds from his iniBurger locations to the refugee effort.

"I feel like if we have large brands taking care of the people in our community, that's gonna be less efforts from the government to take care of those communities because we're taking care of people ourselves," Popal said.

That kind of effort is being seen from Fremont to Hayward to Concord; a community activated by the crisis and desperate for ways to help.

"I'm actually overwhelmed by the amount of support from the community," Fazli said. "Afghans, non-Afghans -- everyone has just been reaching out saying 'how can we help?' I'm overwhelmed by the support and empathy and sympathy that everyone's providing. What I'm saying is that everyone's feeling the same pain and we want to do the right thing."

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