A thunderstorm didn’t stop Iraqi students at Western Michigan University from holding a rally for peace in their home country Wednesday afternoon. During the event organized by the WMU Iraqi Students Union, speakers and supporters chanted “Long Live Iraq; ”Peace for Iraq;” and “Pray for Iraq”.
ISU President Sinan Younis Ma Majeed says the group represents all Iraqis, no matter where they’re from or their religion. He says Iraqi students at Western want an end to their fighting in their country.
That fighting started when the Sunni militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria began attacking cities in northern Iraq and driving out the forces of the Shia-led government in Baghdad. But Ma Majeed says the situation on the ground is “confused” for Iraqi students at Western and their families back home. Ma Majeed says they don’t know who is behind the fighting, only that they want it to stop. He does say that the current situation is an “external assault” rather than internal struggles between Iraqis. ISIS is based in Syria.
Ma Majeed says Iraqis need support from the entire world, not just the U.S., to get through the crisis. He says the media tends to categorize or divide Iraqis according to their religious or ethnic affiliations; something he says distorts the situation and makes it worse.
WMU officials say there are 81 students from Iraq attending classes at the university. That’s the largest number at any college or university in Michigan and one of the largest anywhere in the country.