With a mix of emotions ranging from worry to rage, members of Chicago's Muslim community spoke today about the violence in their homeland and called on the United States to halt the violence.
Christina Abraham, a De Paul University law student, described frantic phone conversations with her family in Lebanon. She said Israeli forces bombed the predominately Christian neighborhood of Ashrafiya, where her aunt and cousins live. She said her cousins were trapped for days in an underground bomb shelter, unsure if they would survive the battle raging between Israel and Hezbollah.
"To kill hundreds of civilians for the sake of two captured Israeli soldiers--who are still alive--is to desecrate the sanctity of human life," said Abraham, 25, who is also civil rights coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago.
"Israel justifies this attack by saying they are targeting Hezbollah. But the Beirut airport is not Hezbollah. The medical supply trucks are not Hezbollah. The children that are dying are not Hezbollah."
Abraham spoke at a press conference at Chicago's Downtown Islamic Center organized by CAIR. As the conflict in Lebanon continues, Muslim community leaders in Chicago said many Lebanese Americans are feeling disappointed and betrayed by the U.S. failure to call a cease-fire.
Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the CAIR chapter in Chicago, said U.S. actions give the impression the administration uses a double standard for Arab-Americans.
"The unwillingness to call for a cease-fire gives the impression that the administration places less value on the lives of American citizens of Arab descent and are therefore not worthy of protection from Israeli state terrorism. The administration should have one standard regarding the value of life and one definition of terrorism," Rehab said.