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Pro-Palestine protesters hold a subdued rally at Utah State University in Logan

About 60 to 70 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered at the Utah State University Quad to demonstrate against the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The much more low-key protest was organized on Wednesday to draw attention to the pro-Palestine movement.

Unlike rallies elsewhere in the United States, the group in Logan engaged in a much more subdued demonstration.

The rally did not have the shouting, shoving or violence that characterizes pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the country – and the message may have been more measured.

The group released an itinerary that included educational events, art projects, the reading of the names of people who have lost their lives and a march around the Quad.

Protesters brought blankets to sit on while listening to the various speakers.

“I completely agree that the people (Hamas) who attacked Israel on October 7 were not in their right mind to do that,” said Mahmoud Ghabayen, a 17-year-old local high school student who said he was born in Gaza. “But I also believe that we have to see what happens after 35,000 Palestinians were killed on October 7th.”

Ghabayen said many children from Gaza were included in that grim total.

Another speaker at the rally, Aziz Abuzayed, said that relatives in Gaza had been attacked or forced to leave.

“My mother and sister lived in fear for their lives for four months before they were able to escape and go to Egypt,” Abuzayed said. “I have family members as close to me as my immediate family who were killed.”

A Utah State University student from Gaza speaks about the family situation at home

Demonstrators made signs and marched on the Quad with messages calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas and an end to the Israeli occupation in Gaza.

Several of those gathered held signs reading “Liberate Palestine: Demand a ceasefire now” and “No more forever wars.”

Another sign read: “Israel tells us what is happening. Gaza shows us. Free Palestine.”

In contrast to the low-key event, a sign read “From the River to the Sea,” a slogan that many Jews find off-putting.

“(The slogan) is essentially a call for a Palestinian state stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, an area that includes the State of Israel, which would mean the dissolution of the Jewish state,” the Anti-Defamation League said the message as “an anti-Semitic accusation that denies the Jewish right to self-determination.”

Kris Carpenter, a USU student organizer of the demonstration, emphasized the peaceful nature of the campus rally.

“What we want from this protest today is a sense of community — a sense of showing that we care about Palestinian Utahns,” Carpenter said. “We want people to be heard and recognized.”

Carpenter said the group wants to educate Utahns about the history of disputes between Israel, Palestine and Hamas.

They wanted their demonstration to be peaceful. KUTV asked if the group condemned the violence at other universities across the country.

“I can’t speak for every county across the country or for every specific student body – they make their specific decision about how they want to engage with those specific universities. “What we want here today is a peaceful demonstration,” Carpenter said.

KUTV asked about the group's feelings for the Israelis killed in the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023.

“In this particular demonstration, we condemn any kind of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia,” Carpenter said. “In any case, there is a lot of tragedy there. Of course we want everyone to be safe.”

Carpenter said the group is calling for a ceasefire and an end to the bombing of civilians.

Organizers said they planned to hold similar demonstrations over the next two days.

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Anna Harden

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