About 100 Sacramento-area Muslims – many of them Afghans who served U.S. troops – gathered at the state Capitol Sunday to pray for the victims of the deadly truck bombing in Kabul and the attacks in London.
They came out in nearly 90-degree heat while fasting for the holy month of Ramadan to mourn the more than 100 people who died last week on two continents and hundreds more who were injured.
The truck bombing in Kabul is considered one of the worst attacks in the long Afghan war. It exploded near the presidential palace and several foreign embassies, forcing the German delegation and other diplomats to flee for safety.
Linna Baraki, an Afghan immigrant who runs her own car dealership and real estate business in Sacramento, organized the prayer to call attention to the victims and their families who she feels have been overlooked by American media.
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“My prayers go out to the London terrorist victims, too,” she told the crowd. “President Trump tweets about them, but nothing for Afghanistan. We are humans; where is our humanity? We are not animals. We lose our loved ones; we lose our families. I shed tears for two days.”
Baraki said she called all of the leaders of Sacramento’s nearly dozen mosques to attend the prayer vigil, but only one – M.A. Azeez of Tarbiya Institute in Roseville and Natomas – came out to pray.
Azeez, an Egyptian immigrant known nationwide for his progressive ministry, prayed for the victims and their families in Arabic, then addressed the crowd in English.
“We’re all fasting, and our hearts are filled with pain and agony,” he said. “I woke up to another horrible attack in the holy month of Ramadan, a sanctified month in which yelling, arguing, saying a bad word is forbidden.”
He added: “Terrorism needs to be eradicated, not because it is hurting western interests, but it is hurting humanity.”
He noted that Sacramento has become home to several thousand Afghans who served U.S. troops in the war on terror in Afghanistan – the largest concentration of Afghan Special Visa holders in the United States.
“I am proud of my Afghan brothers who have established successful businesses and raised beautiful children here, but there is a lot more to be done,” he said.
As black, red and green Afghan flags fluttered in the foreground and 9-year-old Yousef Parwani rubbed his eyes while holding a sign that read “We want peace not monsters,” Azeez said: “We will never, ever abandon hope because while people bleed and people die, the birds will still chirp, the creeks will flow again, the sun will still come up – all evil does is scratch us …”
Several Afghan SIV holders who attend McGeorge School of Law, including one recent graduate, Mohammad Rahimi, 31, addressed the mourners. Rahimi said regardless of language or region, “Afghans are all one nation, even though there are many voices trying to divide us. Our values are peace, justice, security, safety and equality.”
The Afghan law students said there is much blame to go around for terrorism, including the current Afghan government, ISIS, the Taliban and forces inside Pakistan.