As Israel launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip Thursday, the valley’s Muslim community organized a prayer vigil at the Jamia Masjid mosque to remember victims of violence.
Just after sunset, around 60 people with roots in the Palestinian territories and countries including Jordan and India took part in the Janaza prayer, a funeral prayer usually carried out in front of the deceased.
The main purpose is to grant mercy to those who have passed, said Abdurrahman Mohammad, who led the prayer.
The vigil shows individuals in the local Muslim community that they are not alone, said Aslam Abdullah, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada.
Several of those at the vigil said news coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict unfairly favored Israel. Israel is always described as retaliating, even when they start the fight, Andy Amid asserted.
Asked if the media was being fair in its coverage of the conflict, Abdullah said, “Media can impact the perception of the people for some time, but sooner or later people will realize what is right and what is wrong.”
One outspoken member of the local Jewish community was recently in Tel Aviv, Israel, when rockets were launched at the city from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
“People are under constant stress,” Elliot Karp, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas, said on Thursday.
Life goes on there as usual, but when sirens alert citizens of incoming bombs, they drop what they’re doing and find shelter, Karp said.
The Jewish Federation held a rally in support of Israel a week ago, and Karp said many non-Jewish supporters attended.
“I think most Americans understand that Hamas is a terrorist organization, that Hamas has provoked this response from Israel,” Karp said.
The vigil at the Jamia Masjid mosque, off Desert Inn Road and Nellis Boulevard, was held ahead of a pro-Palestinian rally at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse planned for Saturday.
“We heard what was going on and some of us have family overseas and we wanted to do something about it. We wanted to do something that would inform the Las Vegas community,” said Selsabeel Elyaman, one of the event organizers. “Unfortunately, a lot of people do not hear the side of the Palestinians.”
Elyaman, who is half-Palestinian, said that most of the local Muslim community is not Palestinian.
Elyaman called the issue a human rights dilemma and said the entire community is invited to take part in the rally Saturday.
Hanan Ouassini, who is helping to organize the Saturday rally, said: “We can’t go to Palestine. We can at least make a difference where we live on a daily basis.”
Karp and Abdullah both said the conflict affects everyone.
“Why do we have to look in terms of just blood ties?” Abdullah said.
Contact Alex Corey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0270. Find him on Twitter: @acoreynews.