“As a community, we now have a more unified voice than ever; a voice that will help Syrian protesters on the ground in bringing an end to half a century of a brutal dictatorship by the Baath regime.”
- Dr. Sunbulli
Chicago, IL (PRWEB) March 22, 2012
About 1,500 people attended a rally in front of the White House on Saturday morning, March 17. More than 900 turned out for the ‘United We Stand for a Free Syria’ event to commemorate the first anniversary of the revolution, in a historic day for all supporters of freedom for the Syrian people.
The event, co-sponsored by the Syrian American Council, Syrian Expatriates, Activists for a Free Syria, and the Syrian Emergency Task Force, raised more than $1.1 million to support the work of several humanitarian organizations working directly with Syrians affected by the Assad regime’s crackdown on protesters. The organizations include Life for Relief and Development, the Syrian Sunrise Foundation, and Syrian Relief and Development (SRD).
By all accounts, the event was an outstanding success, bringing together more than a thousand community members, activists and leaders from around the country, resulting in a more unified Syrian-American community. Syrians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds were present including Sunnis, Alawites, Christians, Arabs, Kurds, and other segments of Syrian society. Additionally, the four sponsoring organizations agreed to coordinate their Government Relations efforts to help unify their message and support the Syrian revolution in bringing an end to the Assad regime. On the anniversary of the revolution, the four groups released a joint declaration.
The rally at Lafayette Park in front of the White House was the largest of its kind, and featured musical performances by Hip Hop artist Omar Offendum and singer Yahya Hawa. Additionally, speeches were delivered by Pastor Mama Daad, pianist Malek Jandali, SAC Chairman Dr. Mahmoud Khattab, ‘Marie Colvin Convoy for Syria’ organizer Belal Dalati, Ahed Alhendi and representatives from the co-sponsoring organizations. The protesters made their message clear to the Obama administration as they continuously chanted, “the people want a safe zone.”
A late afternoon panel discussion facilitated by SAC board member Hussam Ayloush featured remarks by Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali, SNC members Radwan Ziadeh, Rami Nakhle, and Najib Ghadbian, and the Founder of the Arab Information and Resource Center Farah Atassi, and author/poet Dr. Mohja Kahf.
Ambassador Rasool of South Africa delivered the fundraising dinner’s keynote address in a speech that motivated the attendees to keep fighting until the regime ends. He drew parallels between the Syrian struggle to end dictatorship and the South African struggle to end apartheid. The fundraiser facilitated by Ahmad Bedier inspired the audience to donate more than $1.1 million. The evening also featured a performance by composer/pianist Malek Jandali, remarks by SAC President Dr. Talal Sunbulli and representatives of each sponsoring organization, and a short address by activist Danny Abdel Dayem via Skype.
“This collaborative effort was a breakthrough in the Syrian-American community,” said Dr. Talal Sunbulli, President of SAC, referring to the large turnout, the amount of money raised, and the coordination between various groups. “As a community, we now have a more unified voice than ever; a voice that will help Syrian protesters on the ground in bringing an end to half a century of a brutal dictatorship by the Baath regime,” added Sunbulli.
National and international media outlets, including CNN, Aljazeera, AFP, Washington Post, and others took part in covering this historic event.