Bring the Troops Home, End Occupation of Iraq, Demand San Francisco Protesters

By Pasquini, Elaine | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2007 | Go to article overview

Bring the Troops Home, End Occupation of Iraq, Demand San Francisco Protesters


Pasquini, Elaine, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


TEN DAYS before the Nov. 7 mid-term congressional election in which the Iraq war was a major issue-and as American troop deaths in Iraq reached their highest monthly total in a year-some 2,500 people gathered at San Francisco's United Nations Plaza for an anti-war rally and march. While many carried placards and banners calling for President George W. Bush to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq, one marcher's sign opined "Peace is Patriotic."

Speakers at the event, sponsored by the International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition, included Lara Kiswani of the National Council of Arab Americans and Calvin Gipson, director of Glide Memorial Church's free daily meals program. ANSWER western regional coordinator Richard Becker deplored the war's human toll-more than 600,000 Iraqis and almost 3,000 American troops killed since March 2003-and its financial cost-at least $375 billion.

Al-Sabeel Masjid Noor Al-Islam Celebrates Eid al-Fitr

Al-Sabeel Masjid Noor Al-Islam hosted an Eid al-Fitr prayer and daylong celebration at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium Oct. 23. Beginning with a recitation of the Salat al-Eid (Holiday Prayer) at 7:30 a.m., the fete continued throughout the afternoon. Families and friends socialized and enjoyed delicious food, while youngsters played on a giant inflatable slide and jumping arena.

Eid al-Fitr (The Feast of Fast-Breaking) is the three-day celebration following the end of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar when Muslims observe dawn-to-dusk fasting, attend prayers at a mosque and pray or meditate alone. The Muslim holy month is a time for renewal of hope and goodwill. For more information visit .

Anthony Shadid on Iraq War

"There's no doubt there is a civil war," foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid-just back from Iraq-told a San Francisco World Affairs Council audience. "There are civil war-style sectarian killings going on today. There are a raft of political parties and militias and a raging insurgency." In his Nov. 1 lecture, the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner discussed covering the Iraq war for The Washington Post. These experiences are the subject of his book Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War. Following the program, co-sponsored by Stacey's Independent Bookstore, the author signed books for audience members.

Presently based in Beirut, the Arabic-speaking journalist said he found "a deep frustration, disenchantment, disillusionment and sense of hopelessness" in Iraq in October, and that "the resilience of the people was gone."

Noting the increasing role of religion in public life, Shadid said that Shi'i cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr "today is the most important political figure in Iraq, much more important than [Prime Minister Nuri] Al-Maliki." Securing legitimacy for the Al-Maliki government in the midst of the American occupation is a major issue, he added.

Asked by an audience member if the U.S. was doomed for failure from the start, Shadid responded, "It's a question I've asked myself and I really don't know. I don't think the Americans understood the degree of suspicion they were going to encounter when they entered Iraq."

Another questioner asked about the state of women's rights. "There's no question that there has been a roll back in women's rights since the fall of Saddam," Shadid said.

Answering an audience member's complaint that Shadid's assessment of the situation was quite pessimistic, the reporter stated, "I do sound bleak and pessimistic and I am. We're going to be dealing with the fallout and implications of our actions for many more years."

Jordanian Cultural Evening

On Oct. 26 some 40 people gathered at San Francisco's Arab Cultural and Community Center for an evening celebrating Jordanian culture. …

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