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Oklahoma City citizens join nationwide call for “No War with Iran”

Dr. Ebrahim (Abe) Soltani, computer education technology associate professor at Langston University asks, “Why do we have to have a war to solve problems? Why not peace?” Photos by Darla Shelden.

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

Citizens from the Oklahoma City metro area recently held a public rally in front of the Gold Dome. They joined some 50 other cities hosting demonstrations last week delivering the message;”’No War with Iran.”

A newly formed group, Americans Against the Next War (AANW), is a coalition of Oklahoma City business owners, religious leaders, university professors, students and concerned citizens who feel that the U.S. is on the verge of yet another war.
AANW supporters advocate peace and using means other than military intervention to resolve disputed issues.

Marjan Seirafi-Pour, former chair of the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council and AANW volunteer said, “Our group exists because we know how devastating the last 10 years have been for all Americans.

“We see our young sons and daughters lose their lives at war, military families suffer from not having loved ones near, and how billions of our tax dollars and the economic well-being of our children is being spent on war.”

Bruce Prescott, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists said, “I got involved because I think it is a big mistake to become party to a war against a country where so many people want Iran to have a more democratic government. The Green Revolution may have been temporarily pushed underground, but I think we will completely undermine it if we attack Iran. That would unify the country against us, an external enemy.”

“We believe that the United States should engage in purposeful and directed diplomacy. We have seen first hand that war is not easy and the hostilities and suffrage that result can last many decades,” said Seirafi-Pour.

“I’m here today because I’m a product of war,” said Dr. Imad Enchassi, the Imam and President of the Islamic Society in Oklahoma City. “I’ve lived through one massacre after another. It’s so easy to look from a peaceful place and say ‘let’s wage another war.’ It’s the same record they’re playing over and over. The news media, the hike in oil prices, the accusations going back and forth. There were no weapons of mass destruction, only weapons of mass deception. Looks like we’re going that same road again.”

A recent Rasmussen poll finds that only 35 percent of Americans favor using military force if sanctions fail to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities.

A Q3 2011 Reason-Rupe poll shows 61 percent of Americans believe the U.S. uses its military force in foreign conflicts too often and 62 percent aren’t convinced that the war in Iraq has been worth it, while 65 percent don’t believe that keeping troops in Afghanistan until 2014 will make the U.S. any safer.

“Pray cooler heads will guide America in the dialogue and decision-making over Iran’s position in the world,” stated Peace House Director Nathaniel Batchelder in an Op-Ed widely published this month. “Iran does not have nuclear weapons, and there is no certain evidence that such a program is under way.”

AANW supporters believe mainstream news outlets are once again beating the drums of war, alleging that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, despite Tehran’s claims to the contrary.
“Misleading assertions of Iran’s threat only serve to destabilize the region further, and lessen US security rather than enhance it,” Batchelder said.

Rally supporters feel Americans are drained from the costs of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and they aren’t willing to engage in another conflict.

Elise Robillard, National Chairperson for the NEA Peace & Justice Caucus and local high school French teacher said, “Any time I have the opportunity to stand up for peace in Oklahoma, I do. I’m worried about a war in Iran, but also in Syria. It’s the corporations that get rich off these wars, not the American people. We need to put priorities on education and creating jobs in America.”

“The Israeli minister of defense said Iranians had enough uranium for 4 bombs,” said Dr. Ebrahim (Abe) Soltani, computer education technology associate professor at Langston University. “That’s not true. That’s not the facts. Iran is far away from this. Why do we have to have a war to solve problems? Why not peace?”

Oklahoma resident of 33 years, Mohammed Abooghadareh said, “I just want to stop the war. Like the sign says, ‘War is not the answer’ Let’s solve our problems by talking to each other.”

Americans trying to prevent a war with Iran are supported by some US military generals who feel war should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. They are supported by experts on the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program who report that there appears to be no program in Iran to process nuclear fuel to weapons grade concentrations.

“Last week, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he still has high confidence that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program 8 1/2 years ago,” said Prescott. “The threat of imminent war comes more from jingoistic media personalities than it does from nuclear weapons in Iran.”

Massoud Torbati, from Midwest City said,” I’m here to support the cause. There are too many talks these days to get people ready for an eventual war. I’m trying to do my part.”

Yosef Hooshyar of Norman said, “Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming to an end, in order to keep the corporations going they have to create another one.”

Rena Guay, Executive Director Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research said, “This coalition was formed in reaction to the growing drumbeat about a supposed imminent nuclear threat from Iran. But its mission goes beyond Iran and addresses the perpetual state of war that has seemingly become the new norm in the US.”

A rally supporter from Iran, living in Oklahoma for over 35 years said, “This is déjà vu; we’re doing it all over again. It’s a shame that people don’t see it and that people are fooled. It’s the same playbook.”
James Branum, Legal Director Oklahoma Center of Conscience said, “Unfortunately, it seems like wars begin a lot during election years, you can’t help but wonder.”

“We hope all nations can relax as the inspection process may confirm that Iran has no nuclear weapons program at all,” said Batchelder.

The “No War with Iran” rally was sponsored by Americans Against the Next War, a coalition of concerned citizens that includes the Peace House Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Center for Conscience.
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