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Syrian-Americans in Jacksonville rally to demand ‘Hands off Syria’

By staff

Jacksonville, FL – More than 70 Syrian Americans and their allies in rallied in Jacksonville's downtown Hemming Plaza on Aug. 29 to oppose U.S. intervention in Syria. The rally was part of the “Hands Off Syria Day,” which was a national day of action called by the Syrian American Forum in response to the growing threat of U.S. intervention in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Drawing from Jacksonville's nearly 10,000-strong Syrian immigrant community, protesters carried Syrian flags and signs reading, “Hands off Syria” and “Mr. Obama, stop supporting alQaeda in Syria.”

The resounding message was one of opposition to the U.S. war machine and support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. One woman spoke of a massacre in her home town committed by the U.S. and Saudi-backed rebels, in which 12 civilians were put to death.

“Assad is not killing his people like the media is saying. There is no proof of it,” said demonstrator Faten Mieda in an interview with the Florida Times Union. Mieda's quote referred to the baseless allegations by Secretary of State John Kerry that the Syrian Armed Forces used chemical weapons earlier in August. Reporters and UN officials cast doubt on these claims, implicating the rebels in the chemical weapon attacks.

The rally heard from several Syrian American speakers, who were young workers and small business owners in the Jacksonville area. They spoke out against the Obama administration's threats and they denounced the rebels fighting in Syria as the cause of the two and a half yearlong violence.

The demonstrators emphasized the need for the community to continue protesting against U.S. aggression towards Syria. The group announced plans for future demonstrations in Jacksonville.

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