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Liberty service honors victims all over world



Published: Sat, September 14, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The program featured guests from Niger, where Christians and Muslims co-exist well.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

LIBERTY -- Terrorism, not only as an American issue but also as a global problem, was the theme of a memorial service here for victims worldwide.

"It came graphically to this country a year ago in a way that we never experienced before," said Ray Nakley, a spokesman for the Arab Community Center, where a multiethnic audience of more than 100 attended the service Friday evening.

He added, however: "For many people, in too many places throughout the world, this kind of death and destruction, whether perpetrated by states or other powers, is all too common. All people are equally precious.

"We are global citizens. We deeply care about what happened on Sept. 11, and at the same time, we care passionately as well about the tragedies that happen routinely every day, especially to children, throughout this world."

Visitors from west Africa

Among those attending were Mahaman Alio, a Muslim and a university history teacher, and Hassane Dan-Karami, a Christian government worker. They are visitors from the west African nation of Niger, who were sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches and the Presbyterian Church as part of the Presbyterian Church's Interfaith Listening Project.

Muslims comprise 98 percent of Niger's population. Dan-Karami converted from Islam to Christianity.

"Niger is an overwhelmingly Muslim country, and there are a few Christians, but there is a good co-existence between the Christians and the Muslims. We want to show people that Christians and Muslims can live together without any problem as we are doing in Niger," Alio said.

"Americans are very nice people who welcome us very well and who want to learn many things from other people and who are not embarrassed to ask questions," he added.

"We, in the Niger Republic, are engaged in an interfaith listening program between Christians and Muslims, and our desire is to share our experiences back in Niger of co-existence between Christians and Muslims," Dan-Karami said. "My hope is to see people in the U.S. have a good understanding of people of faith abroad."

Video for peace

The program also included a video from Sept. 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a group comprising people who lost family members in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which asks that those attacks not be used to promote additional war and violence.

Also featured was a performance of "We Remember Them" and "Is Not a Flower a Mystery?" by the Seraphim choral group conducted by John Simsic.

Participants included many members of the local clergy and members of the Arab Community Center, United Nations Association, the Mahoning Valley International Cultural and Civic Society, Peace Action Youngstown and the Coalition for Peace in the Middle East.

milliken@vindy.com




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