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Pakistani-Americans Hold Vigil at State Capitol for Peshawar School Children

The Pakistani community in Connecticut strongly condemned the massacre of scores of school children by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan on December 16. Nearly 100 members of the Pakistani-American Association of Connecticut held a vigil at the Connecticut State Capitol last Friday.

“Terrorism has no religion at all. It is un-Islamic and it is tragic. It was an act of desperation and an act of cowardly intentions,” said Zaheer Sharaff, president of PAACT.

Many students at the gathering held placards with messages such as “Enough,” “Protect Our Children,” and “We Demand an Anti-Terror Strategy.” Their immigrant parents were deeply concerned for the safety of loved ones in Pakistan.

Credit Sujata Srinivasan
Nearly 100 members of the Pakistani-American Association of Connecticut held a vigil at the state Capitol last Friday to condemn the massacre of school children by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar.

Mian Arshad of Waterbury lost a relative in the attack. “He was around 13 years old, and it was really devastating,” Arshad said. “As a matter of fact, my whole family is there -- my mother; my brothers. All we can do is pray that everybody will be safe.” 

The community is rallying around to pitch in. AleenaRaza, a senior at Glastonbury High School, is organizing a fundraiser to help rebuild the Peshawar school. “I can’t believe that innocent, defenseless children were brutally massacred for nothing,” she said, tearing up.

According to Saud Anwar, Mayor of South Windsor, “There is a state of war within Islam. The victims of these extremists and terrorists -- the number one group of people they have murdered are Muslims. And it becomes critical for Muslims all over the world to unite against them.”

The attack at the army-run school left 132 children dead. The Taliban claimed it retaliated the killing of its members by Pakistani authorities. 

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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