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Local high school students speaks out for Palestine

Written by on November 13, 2023

Photo provided by Janna Alshabah

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Local high school senior Janna Alshabah founded local political group “Free Palestine Blono.” Joined by friend Farah Bassyouni, the group held a rally in Uptown Normal to speak out on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The rally reflected the mission of their group, to speak out against what they claim is injustice in the middle east.

Alshabah credited her friend for arranging the November 6 event that brought many together. She was amazed by the turnout and believes this is a result of the promotion on the group’s Instagram and Facebook pages. The spirited eighteen-year-old expressed intentions for another rally in the future but a date has not yet been decided.

Free Palestine BloNo began almost two years ago with only a small vigil and protest. Alshabah felt called to starting this group as she is Palestinian herself.

“This cause is, you know, based on family roots, and while I don’t have family there anymore, I take a lot of pride in that. I believe the resistance of the Palestinian people is very powerful,” she said.

Despite her age, she does not allow that to affect her abilities to make a difference.

She said, “I can definitely have fun and speak out against injustices.”

Alshabah thinks it is important for those in the Bloomington-Normal area to stay informed and aware on the events happening in Palestine.

“This is not a conflict. This is an act against human rights and essentially a failure to the Palestinians unfortunately,” Alshabah said. “I think the easiest way for you to start getting involved and understanding is by reading and watching.”

She noted the social media pages of Free Palestine BloNo as sources to finding reputable first-hand information. She believes witnessing the footage captured by Palestinian journalists is essential to true understanding.

The local teen wants all to know, “Even if you don’t think you can help, you can. There is power in numbers. Be aware of the Palestinian people and know that they will be free.”