Syrians living in Pennsylvania's ‘Little Syria' react to refugee crisis

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Syrians living in Allentown, home of the largest Syrian community in the United States, have mixed reactions about the current refugee crisis.

“My thing is screening,” Fady Salloum, a Realtor, said. "Whoever's coming through the border, coming to the states, I mean, they should be checked."


The Rev. Anthony Sabbagh of St. George Orthodox Church agreed those coming in should be screened but supports accepting more.

"It's a loving community, hardworking community. It's a close-knit community. They love education. They work hard. They build their family. You can be proud of them,” he said.

However, the Syrian owner of a car dealership in Allentown, Pennsylvanian’s “Little Syria,” said he thinks resettling Syrian refugees has been politicized, and he's against allowing more of them here at least for now.

Sabbagh has a different outlook on the situation.

"You have to take chances in life, and this one of the chances you take,” he said.

Alli Walji, secretary of the local Islamic Center, agreed.

"We should be welcoming. Just us being afraid, we're letting them win,” she said.

Syrians first came to Allentown in the 1800s, and many there said since the Paris attacks, they’ve had no trouble from the community at large.