Muslim community leaders call for immediate Gaza cease-fire

One thousand Muslim American community leaders and members from across the Chicago region made a resounding call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza amid the rising civilian death toll.

They came together at the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago's 20th annual banquet, recently held in Oak Brook, focused on defending human rights and combating hate.

State Rep. Nabeela Syed of Inverness gave an impassioned speech, saying her calls for peace and de-escalation have been met with bigotry.

"Conflating calls for peace with support for terrorism is dangerous," she said. "These claims can lead to the hatred of entire nationalities, ethnicities and religions who are deemed terrorist sympathizers for simply asking that people be given basic human rights. We need a cease-fire and we need to demand every single person elected to stand on the side of humanity."

The recent violence was triggered by Hamas' Oct. 7 cross-border attack, which killed about 1,400 people in Israel and led to 240 others, including children, being taken captive.

More than 9,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza - that includes more than 3,700 Palestinian children and minors. More than 7,000 Palestinian children have been injured. Israeli military airstrikes also have driven more than half the Gaza Strip's 2.3 million people from their homes, while food, water and fuel run low, The Associated Press reports.

"These children are forced to play hide and seek, but it isn't with their parents. It's with armed men with artillery and helicopters and airplanes," CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said. "And oftentimes they don't make it out of the game. And again, this is happening on our watch. ... It is happening ... with the blessing of our leaders. As a Muslim, I stand against the death, the targeting of civilians of any background, religion, ethnicity or nationality, including Israel."

The Israel-Hamas conflict has led to an escalation of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic hate crimes and incidents here, leaders say. Jewish community leaders also report a large spike in antisemitism.

"This is probably the craziest, busiest time for ... my office, including in the post-9/11 aftermath," Rehab said.

Chinese author tour

Chinese American author and filmmaker Curtis Chin's national book tour will make a stop in Naperville.

Chin, author of "Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant - A Memoir," will speak at 7 p.m. Monday at North Central College's Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville.

The free event is hosted by Chinese American Women in Action and partners, North Central College, Naperville Bank & Trust and Anderson's Bookshop.

It will be moderated by Liz Spencer, executive director of NCTV 17. Chin will discuss his memoir, which has been heralded by Time magazine and The Washington Post as one of the most anticipated books of the fall.

Chin offers "entertaining and profound life stories of his journey through 1980s Detroit, navigating rising xenophobia and urban violence and finding his voice as a writer and activist," said Jelena Sanchez, professor and chair of North Central College's Cultural Events Committee and a member of the President's Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Chin's memoir is set against the backdrop of his family's popular Chinese restaurant where he learned to embrace his identity as a gay ABC (American-born Chinese).

Chin is co-founder of the Asian American Writers' Workshop in New York City, and served as the nonprofit's first executive director. He wrote for network television before transitioning to social-justice documentaries.

"Curtis highlights what we all have in common and what makes us unique," said Nancy Chen, CAWA president.

Book buyers are invited to a VIP reception with Chin at 6 p.m.

Registration is required. For tickets, visit

Diwali stories and lights

Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin is inviting the public to drop in to learn about the Hindu holiday of Diwali, or Festival of Lights, through stories and activities from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Main Library's Meadows Community Rooms AB, 270 N. Grove Ave.

Diwali, also known as Deepawali, is a five-day festival celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists every autumn between October and November, with the date changing every year.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago will host a Diwali fireworks show from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the temple, 1851 Pramukh Swami Road, Bartlett. Festivities begin with a Diwali Maha Arti, followed by a pyro-musical fireworks display.

Entry and parking are free. Cars arriving after 6:30 p.m. will be directed to park at Bartlett High School, 701 W. Schick Road. Free shuttles will be available.

Native American film

Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin will host a screening and discussion about Ken Burns' newest film "The American Buffalo" in honor of National Native American Heritage Month.

The online film presentation and discussion will run from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. The film tells the story of the buffalo that roamed America in the tens of millions and provided food for the Native people of the Great Plains, and how the animal is being saved from extinction.

To receive a Zoom link for the program and to register, visit, call (847) 429-4597 or register in person at any library branch.

MLK legacy talk

The DuPage County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Advisory Committee will host a virtual session from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday on the Evolution of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and enduring relevance.

The interfaith and multicultural conversation features Julie Dockery, Benedictine University associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion, and Peter Huff, Benedictine chief mission officer, director of the Center for Benedictine Values and professor of religious studies. A Zoom link will be provided later.

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Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, talks about the need for a cease-fire and protection of human rights in Gaza amid the rising civilian death toll. Courtesy of CAIR-Chicago
  State Rep. Nabeela Syed of Inverness spoke emotionally about the need for a cease-fire in Gaza amid the rising civilian death toll. Brian Hill/
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