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'Sadly, we are still divided,' organizer says at 9/11 multifaith vigil

About 200 gather at King Plaza to honor victims and discuss ways to build peace

Ahsan, far right, stands with his parents and holds a candle during the Multifaith Peace Picnic & Prayer Service at King Plaza in Palo Alto on Sept. 11, 2021. Photo by Angela Swartz.

Elizabeth Miller was just 6 years old when her father, Douglas C. Miller, a firefighter, was killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. Years later, in her grief, she began to learn more about the United States' response to 9/11. She met a Middle Eastern man held at Guantánamo Bay purely for "seeming suspicious." What she learned made her feel obligated to "speak out about the injustices that stemmed from (her) loss," she wrote in a Time opinion piece this week.

Hers was just one of the stories shared by some of the more than 200 people gathered in Palo Alto's King Plaza on Saturday evening for the Multifaith Peace Picnic & Prayer Service. For the 20th year in a row, organizers put together the event to not only memorialize 9/11 victims and remember their families, but also to share stories of peace and unity despite the backlash against the Muslim community after Sept. 11.

This year's program began with boxed dinners and included musical performances by local faith groups and speeches. Chairs were spread out throughout the plaza as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. The event, which was held solely virtually last year, was also streamed live on Zoom for those who couldn't attend in person.

The evening ended with attendees gathered in a circle and holding candles in a prayer vigil to honor the victims.

Organizer and Palo Alto resident Samina Sundas, founder of American Muslim Voice, has held the vigil annually since the first anniversary of Sept. 11.

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She shared with Palo Alto Weekly this week that the return to power by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the current of hatred among some groups throughout the country sometimes make her feel that nothing has changed over two decades.

Samina Sundas, founder of American Muslim Voice, addresses the crowd at the Multifaith Peace Picnic & Prayer Service in Palo Alto on Sept. 11, 2021. Photo by Angela Swartz.

"I don't know why you need a boogeyman," she said of the history of xenophobia in America and tendency of some to choose a group toward which to direct their fears and anxieties. "I try to bring the community together and try to heal and build peace. … A few handful of terrorists do not represent me. It's been so wonderful and supportive, every time we host that event."

Sundas recalled online commenters asking if beheading would be on the menu when she held the first picnic in 2002. She said she's now seeing a similar hatred directed toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

"Sadly 20 years later, we are still divided more so than ever," she said.

Related story: The post-9/11 generation: Too young to remember but not to reflect

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'Sadly, we are still divided,' organizer says at 9/11 multifaith vigil

About 200 gather at King Plaza to honor victims and discuss ways to build peace

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sat, Sep 11, 2021, 11:44 pm

Elizabeth Miller was just 6 years old when her father, Douglas C. Miller, a firefighter, was killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. Years later, in her grief, she began to learn more about the United States' response to 9/11. She met a Middle Eastern man held at Guantánamo Bay purely for "seeming suspicious." What she learned made her feel obligated to "speak out about the injustices that stemmed from (her) loss," she wrote in a Time opinion piece this week.

Hers was just one of the stories shared by some of the more than 200 people gathered in Palo Alto's King Plaza on Saturday evening for the Multifaith Peace Picnic & Prayer Service. For the 20th year in a row, organizers put together the event to not only memorialize 9/11 victims and remember their families, but also to share stories of peace and unity despite the backlash against the Muslim community after Sept. 11.

This year's program began with boxed dinners and included musical performances by local faith groups and speeches. Chairs were spread out throughout the plaza as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. The event, which was held solely virtually last year, was also streamed live on Zoom for those who couldn't attend in person.

The evening ended with attendees gathered in a circle and holding candles in a prayer vigil to honor the victims.

Organizer and Palo Alto resident Samina Sundas, founder of American Muslim Voice, has held the vigil annually since the first anniversary of Sept. 11.

She shared with Palo Alto Weekly this week that the return to power by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the current of hatred among some groups throughout the country sometimes make her feel that nothing has changed over two decades.

"I don't know why you need a boogeyman," she said of the history of xenophobia in America and tendency of some to choose a group toward which to direct their fears and anxieties. "I try to bring the community together and try to heal and build peace. … A few handful of terrorists do not represent me. It's been so wonderful and supportive, every time we host that event."

Sundas recalled online commenters asking if beheading would be on the menu when she held the first picnic in 2002. She said she's now seeing a similar hatred directed toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

"Sadly 20 years later, we are still divided more so than ever," she said.

Related story: The post-9/11 generation: Too young to remember but not to reflect

Comments

Shayne Matthews
Registered user
Stanford
on Sep 12, 2021 at 7:47 am
Shayne Matthews, Stanford
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2021 at 7:47 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.]


Jane Forrest
Registered user
another community
on Sep 12, 2021 at 9:55 am
Jane Forrest, another community
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2021 at 9:55 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.]


Citizen
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2021 at 11:08 am
Citizen, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 12, 2021 at 11:08 am

[Portion removed.]

Competing in the marketplace of ideas that is politics works to our benefit when everyone is competing for the public good. This ceased to be the case when the right became full-throttle about lying for plutocracy under Reagan, worsening til today. (As former Republican strategist Stuart Stevens calls it, "industrial lying" on the right that has no equivalence on the left, beginning with trickle-down economics which Rgn administration admitted was a lie to cut top tax rates; the very top crust elite of the wealthiest have been advantaged ever since, economically and power-wise, & if you look up Pew Research "income inequality", they have been basically sucking all the income and wealth from the middle class and poor ever since because of they stopped having to pay their fair share.) The right stacked the Supreme Court (making decision after decision in favor of plutocracy), state houses, pushed legislation through the American Legislative Exchange Council--all to favor the very tiniest crust of the wealthiest elite. (Remember the infamous Citibank memo in which they acknowledge the US was already a plutocracy?) The right had their own propaganda media outlet in F*x News, which to this date, is actively building on decades of misinformation, false framing, dogwhistles & divisiveness (of both the bitter angry & slick type).

George Bush spoke eloquently yesterday, yet seems to have no appreciation for the way his administration lied yet more for plutocracy & brought us to this.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2021 at 7:27 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2021 at 7:27 am

Yesterday I watched a couple of 3 year olds running around playing, holding hands, having fun as 3 year olds do. One was black, one was white. They were happy. They knew nothing about race or any differences between them. It only exists after they have been told there are differences. We must stop putting people in categories or "communities". We must stop these labels. We must stop teaching children they are different from their cohorts.

We are all members of the human race. We have to stop dividing and start looking at what unites us.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 13, 2021 at 8:34 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2021 at 8:34 am
John
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 13, 2021 at 1:53 pm
John, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2021 at 1:53 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 13, 2021 at 3:10 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2021 at 3:10 pm

Here's one of many cites on Fox's lawsuits, this one from the New York Times
Web Link

"On Oct. 12, 2020, Fox News agreed to pay millions of dollars to the family of a murdered Democratic National Committee staff member, implicitly acknowledging what saner minds knew long ago: that the network had repeatedly hyped a false claim that the young staff member, Seth Rich, was involved in leaking D.N.C. emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Russian intelligence officers, in fact, had hacked and leaked the emails.)

Fox’s decision to settle with the Rich family came just before its marquee hosts, Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, were set to be questioned under oath in the case, a potentially embarrassing moment. And Fox paid so much that the network didn’t have to apologize for the May 2017 story on FoxNews.com.

But there was one curious provision that Fox insisted on: The settlement had to be kept secret for a month — until after the Nov. 3 election. The exhausted plaintiffs agreed."


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 13, 2021 at 3:28 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2021 at 3:28 pm

[Post removed; successive posts from same person are not permitted.]


John
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 13, 2021 at 5:30 pm
John, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 13, 2021 at 5:30 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


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