The death of innocent people was a running theme as close to 100 Utahns gathered Friday night to protest Amer-i-can plans to bomb Iraq.
Speakers talked of killing children and other blameless citizens with an air strike. A child held a sign with the message, "Many children in Iraq will die if we bomb" - one of dozens of signs on display. And everyone expressed the hope that their plea for peace would be heard.The problem, according to Diana Lee Hirschi, is that there has not been any kind of public debate of plans to bomb Iraq.
During the hourlong rally at the federal building, sponsored by the Committee for Peace in the Middle East, speaker Peter Appleby said that "war is permissible when there is no alternative." But the secretary of the United Nations and others, he said, are working out those alternatives.
The results of bombing Iraq are predictable, he said. "A lot of people are going to die."
And he accused the U.S. government of having "backed itself into a corner again where some kind of idiotic prestige is at stake."
Appleby believes that the United States and Great Britain are standing alone in talk of bombing Iraq. "Today the United Nations voted to increase oil sales . . . an indication in the direction of peace."
Another speaker questioned why Iraq is being targeted when Israel has nuclear weapons and has refused to sign a proliferation ban. He added that the United States will not allow inspection of its weapons."
Iqbal Hossain, president of the Islamic Society, said Muslims had joined the rally because they are afraid their Muslim sisters and brothers will be killed in an attack. He added that "Jewish and Christian people live in Iraq. Most of all, human beings live in Iraq.
"We need to show our resistance by our words. May God bless us all."
"America should not set a precedent of aggression against an aggressor," said Abdul Sheik of the University of Utah Islamic Student Organization. "We are against the use of force anywhere in the world for any reason."
Even before rallies started springing up around the valley, people from various religions and backgrounds were discussing possible effects of an air-strike against Iraq.
The Deseret News solicited their viewpoints and found a mixed reaction:
Rabbi Frederick Wenger of Congregation Kol Ami said that American Jews are very concerned with the crisis "not only because it endangers world peace, but it endangers the security of the state of Israel. I commend the strong stance the president is taking. It will be safer for Israel, absolutely."
But such a strike could hurt U.S. relations with other Arab nations, according to Hanna Freij, assistant professor of political science at the U. "The Arab governments are wary of a U.S. strike because their publics are in general opposed to us taking military action against Iraq. Any such action will likely increase the popularity of Saddam Hussein," he said.
"It will create further suspicion and enmity toward the U.S. at every level and help Islamic groups who are opposed to the U.S. further their agenda. That in the medium term could lead to serious instability in the region."
And Iqbal Hossain, who is an American citizen, a Muslim and a native of Bangladesh, said that dropping bombs would likely kill others, but not Hussein. "What if a bomb drops in the wrong area? Or hits a factory where there are chemicals (weapons?) Is that going to kill people, too?"
He worries that an attack will make Iraq's leader a "living martyr" and further destroy stability in the Middle East region.