Volume 95, Issue 11

Wednesday, September 19, 2001
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Londoners rally for peace

Games hit too close to home

USC loyalty causes confusion

OUSA puts student face to student debt

News Briefs

Londoners rally for peace

By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

Peace, love and community support were the main themes expressed at a rally held Tuesday morning in front of the London Islamic School.

Approximately 300-400 people attended the event, referred to by organizer Carolyn Wideman as a "peace stand" in the wake of last week's attack on the United States.

Wideman said the purpose of the event was to remember victims and their families, stand together as Londoners and send a message of peace to world leaders.

She said she organized the event as a mother concerned by recent harassment aimed towards members of London's Muslim community and the possibility of war.

"I want to make sure that I have a say in our future," she said.

The event included speakers from the London community, a moment of silence and a scroll which people were invited to sign to speak their "peace," Wideman said.

Haytham Mahfoud, principal of the London Islamic School, said the rally "went beautifully."

Solidarity and support came from the many different community groups and churches that attended the rally, Mahfoud said.

With regards to threats and harassment received by some members of the local Muslim community following the attacks of Sept. 11, Mahfoud said he has since received more positive comments than negative. "I'd like to give thanks to so many wonderful people."

Faisal Joseph, incoming president of the Islamic Center of Southwestern Ontario, said the support shown at yesterday's rally by non-Muslims in London was tremendous and very emotional.

"Carolyn Wideman organized this to send a message of peace and love on her own initiative in less than 48 hours," Joseph said.

"People from every walk of life were in attendance," he said, estimating 80 per cent of the crowd were non-Muslims.

"There has been a ground swell of support from the citizens of London," Joseph said. "This speaks volumes about the integrity and character of the city."

"It was very sincere, heartfelt – very emotional what happened today. All the groups of people [are] trying to make the world a better place to live," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001