Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Third Annual Des Moines Peace Fair Features Diversity

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Third Annual Des Moines Peace Fair Features Diversity

Article excerpt

THE THIRD Annual Des Moines Peace Fair drew hundreds of peacemakers and visitors to the Court Avenue Bridge on Sept. 20.

"We have 34 groups participating this year and a lot of energy," said Kathleen McQuillen, Iowa program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, which organizes the event.

"We have a lot of children's activities this year. It is growing," added McQuillen, who noted a renewed emphasis this year on the environment and diversity. "We have to make those connections," she said.

One of the visitors, Laura McCormick, came to the Peace Fair from Fairfield in southeast Iowa, more than 110 miles from Des Moines.

"It's a long drive, but peace is an important subject," she explained. "I believe in one family under God, that we are all in this together, and that we need to act that way. War is not OK. We need to unite together beyond all the barriers-religious, racial, social, national."

Faizan Syed, president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Drake University, manned the MSA's Peace Fair table.

"We're out here to promote stability between people," he said. Noting that television and media often traffic in stereotypes, he said the MSA works to provide accurate information about Islam to dispel unrealistic fears.

"Islam is a religion of peace that believes in Allah," explained Syed. "Allah means simply, 'the God,' 'the Lord.' We believe that he alone is worthy of worship."

Another visitor, Ruth Ann Petrak, who lives in the Des Moines area, said, "I'm here because I am an advocate for peace and an activist for peace. …

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