Message of Hope; GAZA: City MP and Campaigner Manal on Peace, Politics and Religion

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), January 17, 2009 | Go to article overview

Message of Hope; GAZA: City MP and Campaigner Manal on Peace, Politics and Religion


Byline: By Mary Griffin

A COVENTRY MP has stepped forward to support the campaign for peace in Gaza.

Restaurant owner Manal Timraz launched the One Million Candles campaign, gathering candles, blankets, clothes and medical aid, after losing 15 of her relatives to bombs and watching her brother's home destroyed on TV.

Now, Bob Ainsworth MP, minister for the armed forces and MP for Coventry North East, has become the first politician to contribute to the appeal, donating a dozen candles.

Israel launched air strikes on Gaza three weeks ago, followed by a ground assault, saying it was responding to rockets being fired into Israel by Hamas, who have been in control of Gaza since 2007.

Mr Ainsworth met Manal at Habibi, her Middle Eastern restaurant in Far Gosford Street, where the two talked about politics, religion and peace, and what the people of Coventry and Warwickshire can do to support the war-torn region.

MANAL TIMRAZ: "The score of dead people today was 1,155. They are the ones who have been through Al-Shifa hospital - 15 of them are my family.

"I don't know how many thousands are buried under rubble. That's what's coming next, when kids wake up to no parents, no school, no home.

"We only hear about numbers.

We don't have time to think 'could this number be like my son or daughter? What was his ambition for next year or five years' time?' "You wouldn't believe how many angry people I've talked to, but I'm trying to change that anger into something positive.

"The person who's looking after my family during all this, coming round every day and cooking meals for us, is my Jewish friend, Barbara.

"The first service for my family was held in a Jewish synagogue last weekend.

"That shows how much human power there is.

"Peace is part of every belief system, whether you're religious or not."

BOB AINSWORTH: "You can move mountains with people-power but you need people to do political work as well.

"The Secretary General of the UN is working hard to get some kind of peace and Egypt is heavily involved in negotiations.

"The president of the United States gets sworn in next week and the influence of the US is massive."

MT: If Britain can do something to stop kids like my 12-year-old nephew Mohammed being slaughtered it must.

"His dream was not to be a fighter but to educate himself. …

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