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Grand Mufti joins Jacksonville rally for Syria peace

By staff

Jacksonville, FL – On Oct. 13, 40 people held a “Rally for Peace in Syria” at Saint Ephrem Syriac Catholic Church in Jacksonville. The peace rally drew members of the church congregation, anti-war activists and members of Jacksonville's large Syrian-American and Arab-American community. Friends of the Syrian American Forum organized the rally.

Protesters carried signs reading, “U.S. hands off Syria” and “U.S. stop funding al-Qaeda,” referring to the U.S. and Saudi-backed rebels affiliated with al-Qaeda. Obama’s White House and U.S. intelligence agencies have spent over $1 billion on ‘rebels’ in Syria already. Another sign featured U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's quote during his attempt to drive the U.S. into another Middle East war, “They [the Syrian rebels] are becoming more moderate by the day,” along with a photo of civilians massacred by the U.S. and Israeli-backed rebels.

The rally began with several chants calling for no U.S. war on Syria and then others offered a prayer for peace. Both Muslims and Christians attended the rally, praying together and demanding an end to the U.S.-sponsored violence in Syria.

The Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, spoke to the crowd by videoconference. Syria’s highest Muslim religious figure, Hassoun addressed the rally in Arabic, praying and calling for peace in Syria. He emphasized his desire for unity with all of Syria's religious groups, including Christians, and called on Syrians to support President Assad in fighting the U.S. and Saudi-backed rebels.

People asked Hassoun questions

Dave Schneider, an organizer with Jacksonville Against the War on Syria (JAWS), told Hassoun about the efforts in Florida to stop U.S. military intervention in Syria. With someone translating his words into Arabic, he said, “We have brought together hundreds of people to tell the politicians who make the laws in this country that we don't want war. 91% of the American people do not want war on Syria. And many of us see the courage of the Syrian people and President Bashar al-Assad in the face of U.S. intervention and the Saudi-funded rebels, and we are inspired by that courage.”

Hassoun, whose son was assassinated at a university by the so-called rebels, thanked the people of Jacksonville for their support and asked them to continue spreading the truth about Syria. He told the rally that his attempt to come and address the U.S. Congress was blocked by the U.S. State Department, which denied his visa.

Hassoun said, “When Obama was elected, he promised peace, but now he wants to deliver more war.”

Jacksonville's rally was part of a larger nationwide day of action called by the Friends of the Syrian American Forum. The organization plans to call more days of action in the future to demand “Hands off Syria” and an end to U.S. war.

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