“Peace in the Middle East! Peace in the Middle East!”
Cries for peace intermingled with the sounds of traffic and honking on the downtown square in Tyler on Jan. 16.
The crowd was bundled in sweaters and scarves against below freezing weather to support a cease-fire in the war-torn strip of Gaza.
“We wanted to do this because we are against the killing of any innocent souls anywhere,” Rana Khalifa, a TJC student who helped organize the rally, said. “We see it happening on TV all the time, and it hasn’t stopped since any one can remember, but it’s just getting worse and worse,” Khalifa said.
Tyler’s Muslim community had supporters come to the rally with flags, wearing Israeli and Palestinian colors on their clothes in support of peace on both sides.
“There’s nothing in any religion where it says to kill human beings,” Iqhal Mohammad, a rallying Pakistani American said.
The Gaza Strip rally combined later in the day with another peace vigil that congregates every Friday around noon in downtown Tyler, protesting the war in Iraq.
“Most of us that have been doing this believe that the United States is too militaristic. No other country has a military base in our country but we have military bases in over 130 countries. That doesn’t make any sense,” Judson Malone said.
Malone held a turquoise flag with a peace sign high in the crowd of rallyists to make clear his stance for peace.
The crowd said the rally was meant to be an inspiration to others or a call of action.
“We really do hope that we inspire others and that hopefully this will inspire other peace rallies in Tyler and people won’t be scared,” Khalifa said.
“We just wanted to bring awareness to people in Tyler and let them know this is what’s going on, and this is what we are against,” Khalifa said.
One protest sign simply stated the facts; after 20 days of fighting, 1033 Palestinians (335 children, 100 women), 13 Israelis are all dead.
“We should raise our voices for the right thing. It doesn’t matter what you believe,” Mohammad said.
As for what citizens can do, Khalifa explained that giving money or volunteering with organizations is a good way to help.
One organization called Islamic Relief has a website called http://www.islamicrelief.org where people can donate to help people in the Gaza Strip with food and other basic needs.