Muslim elected officials urge Maine’s Members of Congress to back calls for Gaza ceasefire
Muslim elected officials in Maine on Monday urged the state’s congressional delegation to support a ceasefire in Gaza as Israel’s bombardment of the densely-populated area continues, saying that the targeting of civilians is a violation of international law, no matter their faith or ethnicity.
A ceasefire measure has been put forward in Congress by U.S. Rep. Cori Busi, a Democrat from Missouri.
“In these challenging times, we implore you to support the resolution for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine. This is not only a matter of foreign policy, it is a matter of human life, dignity, and the pursuit of lasting peace,” an open letter to Republican Sen. Susan Collins, independent Sen. Angus King as well as Democratic Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree read.
The document was signed by state Rep. Ambureen Rana (D-Bangor), state Rep. Deqa Dhalac (D-South Portland), state Rep. Mana Abdi (D-Lewiston), Bangor city councilor Dina Yaoub, Portland city councilor Pious Ali, Bangor school board member Marwa Hassanien, Biddeford city councilor Liam Lafountain, and Portland school board member Yusuf Yusuf.
President Joe Biden has rejected calls for a ceasefire. And no one in Maine’s congressional delegation has thus far backed the effort, prompting protests and sit-ins at Pingree and Golden’s local offices.
However, the local elected officials in their letter noted that public opinion is squarely on their side, with 66% of national voters in support of a ceasefire in Gaza.
Such calls come as the death toll in Gaza has reached more than 11,000 people, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, including many children. The bombardment by Israel has prompted the United Nations to warn that “time is running out to prevent genocide and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza” and spurred local movements against Israel’s strikes, which activists view as a disproportionate and heavy-handed response to an attack on Oct. 7 by the Palestinian militant group Hamas that killed more than 1,000 Israelis.
“Let the well-being of the innocent civilians caught in the middle of this conflict guide your decisions,” Monday’s letter to Maine’s delegation reads. “Their lives and futures rest upon your collective actions.”