In light of recent tensions between the U.S. and Iran, on Friday night, over a hundred students gathered at the Rock on Farm Lane for the “#NoWarWithIran” rally to share their stories, views, and to promote peace.
The rally was organized by students Will Hackbarth, Laith Mihyar, Jakob Myers, Emerson Wigand and Uzair Bandagi — who created the Facebook event for the protest. The event page reached over 100 people attending, and got the attention of over 300 people interested.
“There are a lot of things you could be doing on a Friday and it means a lot that you are all here sacrificing that time to come together and say that we stand against another illegal war in the Middle East,” Bandagi said to welcome those who joined.
Bandagi, Hackbarth, Mihyar, Myers and Wigand decided to organize this rally together to express their concerns over such an impactful incident.
“When my friends and I heard about Trump assassinating Iran’s number two leader (Qassem Soleimani), we knew that the next step was going to be the media and political establishments pushing for another illegal war in the Middle East that would result in millions of innocent people dying,” Bandagi said. “When my friends and I saw that no one had already planned a rally, we knew we had to get to work.”
On Jan. 2, a U.S. airstrike near the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. This immediately struck conversations around the world about a potential war between the two countries.
Bandagi pointed out the importance of the current generation of students who are finally able to have a say on these conflicts in the Middle East.
“We are the generation that was too young, literally babies, to oppose the Iraq War, but we saw its effects and it’s affecting us now and it’s affected millions of people across the world. Now, we are seeing another war coming up that we actually have the ability to oppose,” Bandagi said.
Throughout the rally, students gave speeches about their personal views on the dangers that come from war. A majority of the students who spoke were of Iranian descent as well, and shared their concerns for friends and family. They said they felt it was unfair that they have so little worry over their own safety because they are in America.
“Instead of standing here complaining, I acknowledge that I have privilege. If there is a war, my normal day to day routine will probably not differ ... my house will probably not be bombed. If there is a war, I will not die. I cannot say the same for my friends and family in Iran, and I apologize to my Iraqi friends as I cannot say the same for them either,” International relations senior Rose Chehrazi said.
Public policy masters student Malak Aldasouqi spoke about American pride in times like this, that opposing war does not make someone less American.
“I've never felt more American than right now. I know that it's my duty to fight for peace and to question my government's actions to hold our elected officials accountable for their action or inaction. Another war cannot and will not happen if we do our duty as Americans and fight for peace,” Aldasouqi said. “It seems that history repeats itself. The US does not learn from its mistakes. There's still time to fix this. Declaring war is Congress' power. So it's our time to stand up tall and be loud. We will not let a president as the one we had today bully us into another war the American people do not want.”
Students at MSU have no intentions to stop hosting rallies such as this one to stand up for their beliefs.
“This is not the first time we have taken a stand at the Rock and it will not be the last,” Aldasouqi said.