Multi-religion peace rally held at Naperville

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NAPERVILLE, Illinois: United for Peace, a grassroots organization working on unity and peace in the community and across the world, held a peace rally at Riverwalk Grand Pavilion in Naperville March 17.

Speakers included Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and two council members, State Senator Ellman and State Rep. Karina Villa, representatives from the DuPage and Will county boards, an aide from US Rep. Bill Foster’s office, and President of Naperville’s Congregation Beth Shalom.

Around 200 community members from different religions – Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and those of other diverse backgrounds – showed up on a cold day for an outdoor event just so they could say “NO to hate” and join with each other in a collective chorus for “peace”, according to a media statement.

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They spoke against a backdrop of famous quotes on peace and non-violence by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, Victor Hugo, and Malala Yousofzai among others.

A young high schooler, Preetish Chakravorty, opened the event singing the lyrics from John Lennon’s song “Imagine”.

Imtiaz Uddin read the statement from United for Peace on the horrific killing of 50 people in two mosques in New Zealand and led the group in observing a moment of silence for the victims and their families. Other speakers also expressed their sorrow and angst over such incidents.

Shalini Gupta, one of the founding members of United for Peace, introduced the mission of the organization to promote respect and unity among communities and to be a collective voice for non-violence and peace in the world. She also mentioned the Building Bridges program, which would focus on finding common ground and improving understanding between two communities with a history of conflict and polarization.

“The Indo-Pak unit of Building Bridges is our first unit, with more to come over time”, she said.

Porus Dadabhoy from India and Farhan Ahmed from Pakistan talked about the joint resolution for peace that had been signed by Americans from Indian and Pakistani communities and presented to both consulates in Chicago March 5 against the backdrop of escalating military tensions between the two nuclear armed South Asian neighbors.

Those attending were encouraged to post sticky notes on a poster board, answering the question “What action are you personally going to take to promote unity and peace?”

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