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Muslims in NYC rally against terror in U.S., overseas

A woman puts a flower on a table

A woman puts a flower on a table at an interfaith peace rally in Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens, on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Members of New York’s Muslim communities held a vigil in Queens on Saturday to remember victims of terror in the United States and mark the anniversary of a massacre in Pakistan.

More than 150 people — most of them children — died a year ago when Taliban militants stormed a public school in Peshawar.

The fact that the victims of the attack were Muslims was noted at the Jackson Heights vigil.

Ijaz Bokhari, 58, of Northport, one of the organizers, stressed that many innocent Muslims have been killed in terror attacks here and overseas.

“This is not a Christian war. This is not a Western war,” he told the hundred people gathered at Diversity Plaza. “This is our war against a common enemy who has hijacked Islam and is trying to further their political gains.”

The event was hosted by a Long Island-based group, American Muslims 4 Peace, and SUKHI New York, a nonprofit.

Raja Ali Ejaz, Pakistan’s consul general in New York, urged fellow Muslims to “be responsible citizens and to make America your home.”

“It’s a beautiful country. I haven’t seen any country like the United States of America,” he said. “It embraces everyone.”

Bokhari, who was born in Pakistan, said America has been his home since he enrolled at George Washington University in 1982 to pursue an advanced degree in engineering.

“We’re proud American Muslims,” he said. “We’re just as American as anybody else.”

Attendees and speakers recited prayers and sang “Silent Night.” The event concluded with people forming a candlelit circle.

The Peshawar massacre led to changes in Pakistan, including a crackdown on Islamist militants and a new military court to try terror suspects. This month, Pakistan hanged four men linked to the attack.

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