Local Bosnian Refugees Share Their Story and Speak Out on Syrian Refugee Situation

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JOHNSTON, Iowa -- "You`re looking at my promotion ceremony last Monday. This is my youngest son. He`s nine (years old). He`s putting chevrons on my collar," said Sgt. Samir Dzaferagic with the Johnston Police Department. After working for the Johnston Police Department for a decade, Samir has been promoted to Sergeant.

In addition to being a success, Samir is also lucky, as he was able to escape war in Bosnia. "My father took the family to the bus station in April of 1992, and he borrowed money to put us on the bus and send us to an uncle in Germany," said Samir. "Sadly, after that event, he stayed behind and was killed a few months later, in July of 1992, along with six other family members," said Samir. Had Samir stayed behind, he doesn' t think he'd be alive. Samir has a personal opinion on the Syrian refugee situation, but because of his job, he's not able to give it fully. "It`s a touchy subject. I think it`s a subject that got politicized. All I can say is that I`m grateful that I was given an opportunity to come to the United States and make a positive impact," said Samir.

There's another local Bosnian refugee we talked with who is able to speak freely and he has strong feelings on the topic of Syrian refugees. "The United States of America, we`re a beacon of democracy, a beacon of opportunity and freedom. So, for us now to close our doors to people seeking refugee to people running away from terrorists, it`s absurd," said Bosnian refugee and community organizer Elvir Klempic. Elvir says refugees play a key role in society by contributing to our economy. "Go to a number of different restaurants, you know businesses, throughout Iowa, throughout the whole country, all owned by refugees. We are a nation that is built by immigrants and refugees," said Elvir.

Elvir says the attack in Paris wasn't only an attack on France, but on all of humanity, and America should lead the way forward. "We`re a leader of the free world. We`re the largest and the most powerful nation in the world. People want to come to this nation because of the opportunities that we give them, because we make them part of our history and our future and that`s the kind of message we should be sending to the whole world," said Elvir.

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