Falls #Voicesforpeace event urges cease of Gaza hostilities

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Nov. 10—With Israel and Hamas militants at war for the past month in the Gaza Strip, many religious leaders have called for the conflict to end, those in Western New York included.

The Ahmaddiya Muslim Community has launched its #Voicesforpeace campaign to help end the fighting in the Gaza Strip. Its Buffalo chapter held a talk at its Niagara Falls mosque on Colvin Boulevard Thursday night, inviting speakers of different faiths to give their thoughts about the situation.

Chapter President Nasir Khan said similar session are being held at the organization's chapters across the United States and world.

"We may disagree on the way the condition needs to be handled, but we all have to come together and strive for peace," Khan said.

Among those speaking were David Williams of Buffalo Zen Dharma Community, Sr. Mary McCarrick of Catholic Charities, Rabbi Yonina Foster, Imam Qasid Masir and Rasul Khan, president of the Network of Religious Communities. Each of them talked about the need to find peace through their religious perspectives.

"The word Islam means peace," Imam Masir said, condemning the attacks by Hamas. "Everything about Islam points toward peace."

Since the current hostilities started on Oct. 7, at least 1,400 Israelis and 10,000 Palestinians have died as a result, with most of the Palestinians deaths being innocent civilians.

Video sermons from the Ahmaddiya community's caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, were also shown, stating how he feels this war could potentially spread beyond the Middle East and no western leaders are currently acting toward justice. He urged prayer for the oppressed Muslims.

As part of the campaign, the Ahmaddiya Muslim Community is writing letters to world leaders, urging them to bring this conflict to an end. For American chapters, they are sending those letters to President Joe Biden and Congressional members.

Khan said there is only so much individuals thousands of miles away from the conflict can do, so they can only try to get people to form a bond with those impacted.

"The bottom line is everybody in their heart wants peace," Khan said. "That's what we should be striving for right here in our neighborhood as well as somebody else's neighborhood."

Laura Ponivas and Jessica Miller, two teachers from the Niagara Wheatfield School District, were invited by some of their students. They have attended other religious events for other students, this being their first such Muslim event.

"Everybody wants there to be a ceasefire," Miller said. "Nobody wants to take other people's lives and we're all in it together in the form of humanity."