Rally-goers gather locally, think globally in response to escalating crisis in Syria

CINCINNATI -- Thousands of people across the globe rallied Saturday to voice their opinions on the developing crisis in Syria.

In places like Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky. protestors lined city streets with signs and agendas, hoping their messages would be heard by the decision-makers in the nation's capital.

The rallies were held in response to proposed U.S.-led military action against the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad following the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus that killed hundreds of civilians, according to President Barack Obama's administration. 

Obama said the action crossed a "red line" and limited pinpoint action is needed to deter future chemical attacks.

According to the Associated Press , Obama has been lobbying for international and domestic support for punishing the Assad's regime. So far, however, he has received little international backing. France is one of the only major allies of the United States to publicly offer to join in a strike.

That perceived lack of support trickled its way into communities of people across the globe who ventured out of their homes and into city streets Saturday to voice a simple message: don’t go to war.

One of the those communities was Cincinnati, where approximately 50 people made their way downtown to march for peace.

Echoing the sentiment of wartimes past, marchers loudly chanted, “What do we want? Peace. When do we want it? Now.”

One of those people was Patrice Tegni.

"I don't believe in killing. I believe in friendship, diplomacy,” he said. “There (are) many alternatives. We don't have to go to war."

In addition to wanting to avoid what he considers needless deaths, Tegni and others like him believe the Obama administration’s push to use military forces in Syria won’t effectively resolve anything.

"I feel war will make stability and peace a lot more, a lot more difficult to achieve, it will make things worse."

On Saturday, signs filled picturesque Piatt Park on Garfield Place, the one-time home of rallies and movements like Occupy Cincinnati.

The physical displays of political rhetoric ranged from “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” to “united we stand against war.”

Conor Jameson said the talk of war hits close to home. Her brother is in the U.S. Navy and she fears he’ll be deployed if tensions between the United States and the Middle East country continues to intensify.

But in addition to her own self-interested agenda, Jameson believes there are other societal reasons, ones rooted in the national interests of Americans, that serve as justifications for not going to war.

"There's so much here that needs to be done and that is not being tended to or taken care of,” she said. “I think (using our military in Syria) would be irresponsible."

Similar rallies were held by like-minded people around the world, from Damascus to Vatican City to Washington, D.C.

The Vatican estimated about 100,000 took part in the Rome event on Saturday, making it one of the largest rallies in the West. 

Pope Francis spent most of the vigil in silent prayer, but during his speech to the droves of people in attendance he pleaded for peace and denounced those who are "captivated by the idols of dominion and power," AP writer Nicole Winfield wrote . Francis asked for the citizens of the globe to not allow further destruction of God's creation through war.

"This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: Violence and war are never the way to peace!" he said.

"May the noise of weapons cease!" he said. "War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity."

Syrian Christians in Damascus fasted, prayed and joined Francis' invitation to oppose outside military intervention in the conflict.

In Washington, at least 150 protesters picketed in front of the White House and marched to Capitol Hill to voice their opposition to a U.S. military strike in Syria. Anti-war protests were also held in other U.S. cities, including one in New York City's Times Squares and a prayer vigil in Boston.

But not everyone is of the opinion a diplomatic response is the best way to handle the situation in Syria. 

Rally-goers in Louisville called for the use of military intervention, saying it's not only a just option by the right decision. Most of those supporters were Syrian-Americans, according to WDRB.com.

According to an article on WDRB.com , dozens of people gathered in an area known as the Highlands to urge support for military action. Attendees held signs with messages like "Bashar the butcher must be brought to justice" and "military action can save children in Syria."

The calls for the world to bring the Syrian president to justice through force are shared by Mohammed Alaa Ghanem of the Syrian-American Council. Calling Assad’s actions “reprehensible,” he voiced that he supports the Obama administration’s request to “punish” the Syrian regime.

"The Syrian-American community overwhelming

supports President Obama's request to punish Assad for his reprehensible use of chemical weapons against innocence in Syria," he told CNN.

Where do you weigh in on the topic? Did you participate in one of these rallies? Leave a comment in the section below.


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