Pittsburgh mayor requests worldwide moment of silence for synagogue victims
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Pittsburgh mayor requests worldwide moment of silence for synagogue victims

Friday ‘Rally for Peace’ at city will commemorate 11 victims of October 27 anti-Semitic shooting in Squirrel Hill neighborhood

In this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 photo, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto walks in view of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 photo, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto walks in view of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A moment of silence to honor the 11 people killed in a synagogue is planned at a park in downtown Pittsburgh nearly two weeks after the massacre.

Mayor Bill Peduto is asking people around the world to join in the moment of silence at noon Friday.

It will start a “Rally for Peace” at Point State Park to commemorate victims of the Oct. 27 shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is encouraging people in the state to participate by reflecting on their common humanity and to work toward a more peaceful society.

The shooting was the deadliest attack on Jews in US history.

The 46-year-old suspect, Robert Bowers, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges.

Driver’s License photo of Pittsburgh synagogue massacre suspect Robert Bowers. (Pennsylvania DOT)

On October 27, Bowers is alleged to have entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh with an AR-15 and several handguns and opened fire on a Shabbat service. He killed 11 congregants and injured four police officers, authorities said.

Federal prosecutors have charged Bowers with 44 felony counts, including using a firearm to commit murder and other hate crimes, such as obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer.

On Thursday US President Donald Trump said he rejects white supremacism and anti-Semitism, but did not say how he would counter the phenomena and angrily rejected claims that his rhetoric spurs division.

Reporters peppered Trump with questions about a range of issues in a free-wheeling news conference on Wednesday after Trump’s Republican Party lost control of the US House of Representatives but made gains in the Senate the day before.

A number of reporters asked Trump about the dangers of right-wing extremism, especially in light of the massacre last month in Pittsburgh.

“It’s very sad, I hate to see it,” he said of anti-Semitism before noting the praise from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, November 7, 2018. (Evan Vucci/AP)

“Many presidents have said they will build the embassy in Jerusalem, never happened, but it happened with me,” he said.

Pressed by the reporter on divisiveness and anti-Semitism in America, Trump said that the continued success of the American economy would help, and argued that he was closing the trade gap with China.

Another reporter asked whether Trump would restore funding for monitoring the extreme right that was cut by his Department of Homeland Security.

“I believe all hate is a problem, I do believe it’s a problem and it’s a problem we’re going to solve,” he said.

Pressed for specifics, Trump said “It’s a problem I don’t like a little bit.”

The killer in Pittsburgh reviled Trump as too close to Jews but embraced the president’s dire warning that a convoy of migrants trekking through Mexico was set to “invade” the United States. Immediately before the shooting, the shooter railed against HIAS, the Jewish agency that advocates for immigrants. The day before the killings, a Trump enthusiast was arrested on suspicion that he sent at least 15 pipe bombs to liberals, Democrats and CNN, all of whom were specific targets of Trump’s verbal and social media attacks.

Anat Halevy Hochberg of Brooklyn, NY., visits Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue to the 11 people killed Oct 27, 2018 while worshiping in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)

In the closing days of the midterm campaign, Trump approved an ad linking a Hispanic man convicted of killing two US police officers to Democratic immigration policies. CNN refused to air the ad, saying it was racist, while NBC pulled the ad from future use after airing it during a football game. Fox News also said it would not air the ad.

In August Trump tweeted that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to study the “large scale killing” of white farmers in South Africa, crediting a broadcast by Fox News host Tucker Carlson for alerting him to the issue. White supremacists have long repeated a discredited theory of “white genocide” in South Africa.

Trump lashed out at reporters who asked him whether his rhetoric was encouraging white nationalists. An African-American reporter for PBS, Yamiche Alcindor, asked him whether his recent embrace of “nationalism” was a signal to white supremacists.

“That’s such a racist question,” the president responded. “What you just said is so insulting to me.”

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