Chicago Sun-Times: Lebanon native joins rally seeking end to violence

Israeli attacks on Lebanon that have killed hundreds and left thousands homeless literally hit close to home for Imam Mustapha. Mustapha, born in Lebanon, was among the 500 protesters rallying on North Michigan Avenue on Saturday, demanding the U.S. government help stop the violence.

"I am so scared," he said. "I don't know what will happen to my family or country. They are bombing our people. . . . I don't know what to do."

Mustapha, who lives in Chicago, is awaiting the arrival of his wife and two children, who were in Lebanon visiting relatives when the fighting started.

"They saw the troops coming and heard the gunfire, then grabbed what they could and quickly left," he said.

The last he heard, his wife and children were staying with relatives who drove them to Jordan. He hopes to arrange a flight for them to Chicago in the next few days.

"It would be best if I could see my family before they are placed in danger again," he said. "[Israel] said they are attacking us because of self defense, but innocent women and children should not be killed."

Growing up in the region, Mustapha was no stranger to living in fear of being bombed. He still remembers the sound of tanks rumbling by his home, and the thundering boom of gunfire in the distance. Mustapha's biggest concern is that his 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son will have those same scars as a result of being caught in the middle of the violence.

kmarshall@suntimes.com

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Sun-Times

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