Arkansans rally for peace after airstrike stirs war discussion

ARKANSAS, USA — With our relationship with Iran shrouded in uncertainty, groups around the state made clear what they don’t want. 

From Little Rock to Fayetteville, they said “no war.”

Arkansans stepped out around the state to rally for peace after President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. 

The president said Friday that the United States killed Soleimani, “to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”

“We are here because we are outraged at the action that the US Government has done,” said Hamid Ebrahimifar, a member of the Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice.

A few dozen people packed a sidewalk in Little Rock’s Hillcrest neighborhood.

“When we get in confrontations with other countries, we do it peacefully, we do it diplomatically,” said John Coffin with the ACPJ.

The US has been at odds with Iran for more than 40 years, with sanctions and nuclear agreements that have raised and reduced tensions.

“Our view is that, no, when the going gets tough, you push further. You have to continue to work for peaceful solutions to these problems,” Coffin said.

From Hillcrest, to the River Market, to the Washington County Courthouse, they said they fear that the assassination of Qasem Soleimani would be the beginning – not the end – of the conflict.

“This is escalating towards a potential war with Russia and China, and nobody wins a nuclear war,” said protest organizer Abel Tomlinson. “A nuclear winter would potentially threaten everyone. So right now, all of us are being threatened. My children are being threatened and I take that very seriously.”

With their signs, sayings, and songs, they hoped their message would reach from Arkansas to Washington, and even to Baghdad and Tehran.

“We believe that it was necessary to say this is, perhaps, not the right way forward, an assassination of a state leader, that we should continue the peace initiatives that we’ve had, which have been to make sure that we remain at peace with Iran, and Iraq, and the Middle East,” Coffin said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

RELATED: Trump tweets warning to Iran after it vows to avenge general’s killing

RELATED: Iranian general steps out after Soleimani’s death to lead

RELATED: President Trump: Killing of Iranian general was meant ‘to stop a war’