Antiwar rally returns


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In the first antiwar rally on campus since President Obama took office, some UI and community members banded on the Pedestrian Mall this weekend to protest Middle Eastern dissents.

UI junior Megan Felt said the “Funk the War” event — organized by the UI Antiwar Committee — not only rallied against the war in Iraq, but also the escalation in Afghanistan and the occupation in Palestine.

“We’re always ready to protest,” said Felt, a member of the committee since 2006.

The march and dance party was marketed as a “funky” rally, but few danced to the Beatles and the Guess Who in the mid-30 degree weather.

Felt called Obama’s decision last week to deploy 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan an “escalation of the war,” adding people need to “continue discussing with Obama and Iowa representatives why our conflict isn’t the resolution.”

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She said the recession has distracted many — including the mainstream media — from the wars in the Middle East and Latin America.

Before the march, three speakers — elementary-school teacher Zahra Al-Attar, Bryson Dean of Grandmothers for Peace, and local activist and writer Paul Street — expressed their opposition to the war on terrorism.

“I’m against any war,” said Al-Attar, an Iraqi who has lived in the U.S. since 1994.

The mother of two has been involved in the Antiwar Committee for nearly eight months. She lived through the Iraq-Iran and Iraq-Kuwait wars and has seen and heard of the suffering of family, friends, and colleagues in her native country, she said.

According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, more than 4 million Iraqi refugees have been displaced in and around the country.

“I hear that soldiers are falling,” Al-Attar said. “I know the suffering of the Iraqi people.”

Before the crowd of fewer than 20, Street questioned why the “left” locals and university officials aren’t doing more to help in the protests against the war.

“The big truth right now, whether this town’s missing-in-action progressives get it or not, is that we need to fight the rich, not their wars,” he said, citing big corporations for wasting their technology and funding on war.

After Street’s comments, UI sophomore Jill Kacere and three other women removed their coats to reveal bright and colorful garb. The Radical Cheerleaders entertained the crowd with an antiwar cheer routine. Kacere said their rallies and cheers will continue until the war ends.

“We wanted you in, and you better stick to what you promised for us,” Kacere said, addressing Obama.

After the speeches, Felt and 10 others helped carry banners and posters emblazoned with peace symbols and antiwar rhetoric, chanting loudly, “War machine, tear it down,” while passersby beeped their car horns and gestured in agreement or anger of the small group.

UI sophomore Jess Campbell said this rally is “definitely not going to be the last.”

The group will continue its War on Terror 101 series with a free showing of Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death April 2 in the IMU.

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