Southland Residents Hold Candlelight Vigil For Slain Ambassador to Libya
The vigil, sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Libyan-American Society of Southern California, attracted a diverse range of SoCal residents -- Syrian-Americans, Libyan-Americans, Muslims, Christians and many others.
On the corner of Barranca Parkway and Jamboree Way, in front of a large open-air mall, demonstrators came to mourn the loss of the U.S. Ambassador and to denounce the violent crimes that took his life. They held up candles and the organizers addressed the audience, speaking on Ambassador Stevens, the attacks on U.S. Embassies all over the world, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria.
"We are here to make it clear to the world that this outrageous crimes is against the most basic principles of Islam," said Dima Khadreki, an organizer of the event and Syrian-American, "Islam is against any kind of violence, hatred and revenge."
It was originally believed that the attack on the U.S. Consulate that killed Ambassador Stevens was a reaction to an anti-Islam film produced in Hollywood. The film, "Innocence of Muslims", portrays the Muslim Prophet Mohamed as an abusive womanizer and disparages Islam as a barbaric religion. The trailer was redubbed in Arabic and spread over the Internet on chat rooms and forums, inciting anger and calls to protest.
There is now reason to believe that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was preplanned for the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the Twin Towers.
"It's unfortunate that bigotry and intolerance exist on both sides," said Lilah Khoja, a 21-year-old senior at UCLA and Syrian-American, "and they just feed off of each other, growing stronger and stronger."
Khoja planned the vigil. She hopes that people will understand that the attacks on the consulate and U.S. embassies around the world are the work of an extremist minority.
"They don't speak for anyone. They don't represent anyone but themselves," she said.
As Khadreki spoke to the demonstrators, she broke into tears when she broached the topic of Syria, where hundreds and thousands have died in protest of the Al-Assad regime.
"Every day hundreds Syrians are getting killed, arrested tortured, raped all over Syria," she said, "The world is silent."