Hundreds in Boston protest US involvement in Middle East


Nicholas Stolte

Bostonians gathered near the Common Jan 25. to condemn U.S. involvement in Iran and Iraq.

Nicholas Stolte, news correspondent

Over 400 people rallied in Boston Common Saturday as part of an event to denounce U.S. actions in Iran and Iraq, including an airstrike which killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and sanctions against Iran. 

Soleimani was “plotting sinister attacks on diplomats and American military personnel,” President Donald J. Trump said in a speech following the Jan. 3 airstrike, although high-ranking members of Trump’s cabinet have remained vague about the timeline of events since the initial statement. 

The demands of the protesters at the event, which was hosted by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition, or ANSWER, were for the United States to “end its war drive” with Iran, that it end the “genocidal” sanctions against Iran and that U.S. troops leave Iraq, according to ANSWER Coalition Organizer Nino Brown. The “No War With Iran” protest featured over a dozen speakers from various organizations such as Pride at Work, Massachusetts Peace Action and the Boston Teachers Union

“What really set this off … was that the United States committed an illegal and brazen war crime,” said Husayn Karimi, another organizer with the ANSWER Coalition, referring to the killing of Soleimani.

Between speeches and during their march to Downtown Crossing, protesters shouted chants such as “occupation is a crime, from Iraq to Palestine.”

Many speakers touched on the role that class played in the activities and consequences related to U.S. presence in the Middle East.

“When our ruling class decides to invade a country, it is never for the benefit of our working class siblings in those countries, it is always to protect the interests of capitalists,” Pride at Work member Cailey O’Keith said.

U.S. military spending was another matter of contention for speakers, who said that the funds could be repurposed as aid for the working class in the nation.

“Since we spend all our money on war, we can’t rebuild our infrastructure,” Massachusetts Peace Action member Brian Garvey said. “We can’t have decent healthcare in this country. We can’t have a Green New Deal. We can’t have fair education.”

The rally comes after Iranian NU student Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi was deported Jan. 20, despite having a valid F1 student visa. Amrita Dani, a member organizer of the Boston Teachers Union, denounced the deportation in her speech.

“It’s just pure bigotry and xenophobia, it’s outrageous,” said Mike Bresnahan, a 70-year-old math paraprofessional in the Lawrence Public Schools who attended the rally as a protester. “To me, right now, we’re sliding towards fascism.”

Protesters hope that this rally will inspire others to engage in similar activities. During the rally, the ANSWER Coalition collected donations for a Puerto Rican earthquake relief organization, collecting over $500.

“I think that more people should understand how protests and public action can actually make a difference,” Bishti Samaraweera, a 19-year-old student, said.

According to Karimi, the ANSWER Coalition plans to organize another protest some time in mid-March.