AUGUSTA — A vigil will be held Wednesday afternoon in front of the Maine State House and the Blaine House to welcome Syrian and other refugees to Maine, according to a news release from one of the event organizers.

Sass Linneken, program coordinator for Resources for Organizing and Social Change, one of the groups involved in the vigil, said the event is a direct response to Gov. Paul LePage’s opposition to letting Syrian refugees settle in Maine. However, she said she wanted to emphasize that this wouldn’t be a protest, but rather a vigil and message to the people in need.

“Our governor may feel fearful, but he doesn’t speak for all of Maine,” Linneken said. “We want to make sure there is a loud message sent to the people who are suffering.”

In last week’s statement, LePage vehemently opposed any Syrian refugees entering Maine and said he would “take every lawful measure to prevent it from happening.” He said bringing Syrian refugees into the U.S. without knowing who they are would be inviting “an attack on American soil just like the one in Paris last week and in New York City on 9/11.”

He joined more than two dozen other U.S. governors who have said they do not want Syrian refugees in their states following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

Linneken sent notice of the vigil to numerous groups and hundreds of people, but she would not speculate about how many people are expected to attend. She said that “we have an obligation to show some humanity as one of the richest countries in the world” because the number of refugees from Syria seeking asylum in surrounding countries are in the millions, the majority of them women and children.

“We feel like we have a humanitarian duty to welcome these people,” she said.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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