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Local religious leader weighs in on GOP leaders’ proposals to ban refugees, Muslims

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has driven the campaign conversation with his plans to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico and his desire to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

At Tuesday's GOP debate, several candidates echoed similar desires to ban groups from immigrating to the U.S.

"We have a tremendous refugee crisis going on because of a tremendous amount of violence," says Huntsville Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar.

Bahar says now is not the time to turn our backs on those seeking refuge.  She says the diversity of our nation should be used as a resource to fight terror, rather than viewed as the problem.

"The citizens in this country come from all religious backgrounds, national backgrounds and have a lot to offer. We are a country built on immigrants, all of us. When we come from different places we bring different perspective and are able to hopefully create a better, stronger whole," said Bahar.

At the debate, Jeb Bush had a similar tone, criticizing his GOP opponents' policies and saying they would ostracize Muslims.

"It will push the Muslim world, the Arab world away from us at a time we need to re-engage with them, to be able to create a strategy to destroy ISIS," said Bush.

Bahar agrees, unity is the key to peace.

"We need to recognize and understand that when we start to embrace everybody and resolve violence then hopefully we can all start to live in a world [with] peace and prosperity," said Bahar.

In response to recent violence and division, on Friday, leaders from several denominations will gather at the Huntsville Islamic Center for a prayer for peace at Noon. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.