Lara Makhoul was a baby when her parents emigrated from Syria to the USA, leaving behind extended family and friends. These days, the 17-year-old Whitehall Township resident’s worst fear is waking up to the news that an American-led attack on the Middle Eastern country of her birth kills someone she loves. That fear led Makhoul, a Syrian flag painted on her left cheek, to join at least 100 others who oppose American involvement in Syria’s civil war for a rally this afternoon in Allentown PA. Whitehall Township resident Aziz Wehbey, an American flag draped across his shoulders, said, “We’ve gathered to spread the word of peace, to avoid any civilian casualties in Syria along with saving our US troops’ lives. We’ve lost enough soldiers from the war in Iraq“. Protesters rallied outside St George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 1011 Catasauqua Avenue, before heading to Fifth and Hamilton streets in the city’s downtown. Some, like Makhoul and Wehbey, waved Syrian or American flags. Others carried images of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or signs that read, “Supporting terrorism overseas will come back to haunt US”, “Strongly support President Bashar”, and “Our Middle East foreign policy must change”. Led by Allentown resident Gus Soud, who used a bullhorn, protesters chanted in English and Arabic. They said, “US, NATO, hands off Syria” and “We love Syria”.
President Barack Obama indicated that he’s prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria to punish Assad for allegedly launching a chemical weapons attack last week that killed hundreds of his own people. Assad denied responsibility for the attack, and several protesters today said they believe him. May Issa, of Allentown, said that rebels are to blame for the deadly attack; they’re pointing the finger at Assad to stir up trouble and destabilise the Syrian government. Issa said that the Obama administration is touting misinformation as fact just as the Bush administration did before the Iraq war. Bethlehem PA resident Nizar al-Khatib said that US foreign policy in the Middle East made Syria a hotbed for terrorist activity. He said that Assad is committed to eradicating terrorism, but has his hands full with al-Qaeda and similar organisations. Catasauqua PA resident Hind Azar also criticised US foreign policy, saying that it does more to breed terrorists then quell terrorism. She said that the chemical weapons attack in Syria is proof of that. Syrian-Americans and others have staged several protest rallies in Allentown this week; today’s gathering was the largest so far.
30 August 2013
Let’s see… Slobberin’ Ronnie supported Osama bin Laden in the 80s. Hmm… I seem to remember that he headed a group called al-Qaeda. Let’s not step in the same cow-pat again. Stay out of the Syrian Civil War… both Left and Right are united, mirabile dictu… fancy that.