Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Syrians Visit the Hill: Clashing Rallies Support Peace, Intervention

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Samir Hineidi attends a rally on the East Front of the Capitol to call on the U.S. to take military action against the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

“I am 100 percent pro-peace, I don’t believe that war should be our first option, but unfortunately war is technically our last option ... absolutely no boots on the ground, I agree with that ... but you cannot let those massacres happen. When 1,400 people died in 20 seconds, that should be something that moves your emotions and you set the issues that you have aside and you make a conscious decision — do you want to help people or not?”

Joumaa is a Syrian-born U.S. citizen who has traveled to D.C. three times in the past two years to participate in protests.

Monday’s “Rally to Stop Assad’s Atrocities” was organized via Facebook. Members of the crowd nearly all said they were natives of Syria. Babies played on the laps of their mothers, most of whom had their heads covered. Some talkative protesters dispersed from the group to chat with curious tourists. A Capitol Police officer on the scene said no arrests had been made.

By 4 p.m., another, smaller Syria-related protest had developed across Constitution Avenue, on the grass by the Russell Senate Office Building. Around 75 people lounged about the site carrying signs and wearing T-shirts that read “Peace in Syria.”

Inaam Jarjous said she and the other women, men and teens, all natives of Syria, traveled from Allentown, Penn., to tell Obama and Congress to stay out.

“We are a very peaceful country,” said Jarjous, who lounged on the grass and smoked a cigarette. She was born in Syria in 1948, but has lived in the U.S. for 36 years. She last returned to her village seven years ago and recalls, “You could stay outside until 3 a.m., 4 a.m., with your children. Whenever. We are a very peaceful country.”

Jarjous choked up as she spoke about recent calls to her niece in Syria. The young woman and her family are concerned they will be the target of bombing, Jarjous said.

“We are a very peaceful country. I don’t know why Obama is supporting this. It’s not fair. We are tired. We don’t want Obama bombing our country,” she said. “How many mothers are going to cry?”

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