Local Iraqis Gathered to Support The Iraqi Army and Families

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COLUMBIA - A group of Iraqi citizens living in Columbia planned a demonstration in front of city hall Friday night.

The group gathered in support of the Iraqi Army and their families still living in Iraq. The group said it wanted support from the American government in its fight against a terrorist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

The Iraqis at the demonstration said they are not against new U.S. military action in Iraq if it becomes necessary. However, Ali Sultan, a demonstrator and Ph.D. student,  said the Columbia Iraqis believe the Iraqi Army could defeat ISIS on its own.  In order for the Iraqi Army to defeat ISIS, one of the demonstrators said the U.S. government needs to support Iraq's government by sending it weapons, aircrafts, and other logistical supplies.

Amged Alezzi, another demonstrator, said waiting for the religious leaders in Iraq to gather under one parliment will likely never happen.  He said the U.S. needs to support Iraq now, before the fighting and killing gets any worse.  He said it was as likely for the religious groups to gather under one governmental system as "John Boehner is to join the Democratic Party."

However, Alezzi said the people of Iraq are very peaceful with each other, unlike their leaders.  The demonstrators said they tried to prove this through their gathering.  The group was made up of several different backgrounds, including Shiite and Sunni.

Sultan said the conflict between Sunni and Shiite has been blown out of proportion. He said he and his wife are of different religions of Islam, along with his uncle and his uncle's wife.

The Columbia Iraqis' message is simple: brotherhood. They said they were demonstrating unity between all the different people of Iraq.

"We are Iraqi people against any terrorists and any sectarianism," said Sultan. "We as an Iraqi people will stay united, we are brothers as we used to be, and we are still united."

Sultan said the conflict in Iraq is between the people of Iraq and terrorists. He said the terrorists have no religion because terrorism itself has no religion.

The demonstrators all live in the Columbia area. The group has no official name, and said it is simply Iraqi people in Columbia.

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