President Obama slaps hands with 8-year-old Hinna Zeejah of Oceanside.
President Obama slaps hands with 8-year-old Hinna Zeejah of Oceanside.

Among the children who joined President Barack Obama for his gun control proposal presentation on Wednesday was an 8-year-old Oceanside resident who penned a letter to the president asking him to stop all these “terrible problems” in the country.

Hinna Zeejah, a third-grade student, coolly slapped hands with the president as he sauntered over to a group of children before signing 23 executive orders related to curtailing gun violence.

A smiling Zeejah and three others were selected by the White House to join the president during his much-anticipated speech on gun control after he received letters from them pleading that he do something about gun violence following the massacre in Newtown, Conn. last month.

“I just wanted to tell you that I feel really sad,” Zeejah wrote in the letter. “Also I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children. Mr. President can we do something which will stop all of these terrible problems?”

She continued: “Watching the news all day on Friday one qu(e)stion pop(p)ed in my head, and that question is: ‘Can we stop using guns?’”

During his remarks, Obama introduced the third-grader to the audience, which included family members of Newtown victims, and encouraged her not to be shy.

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“You can go ahead and wave, Hinna. That’s you,” he said to laughter.

Zeejah’s mother, Nadia, who joined her daughter on stage with the president, told the New York Daily News that she was skeptical when she first saw the White House invitation. She verified the White House official’s name on the Internet and then happily agreed to attend the event.

“I called her back and then we are here,” she told the paper.

The president’s use of children and their heartfelt letters didn’t sit well with everybody.

Critics of Obama’s proposals to potentially curb gun violence accused him of using children for political gain on the same day the White House criticized the National Rifle Association for releasing a video invoking the president’s daughters.

The tough words from both sides didn’t seem to dampen Zeejah’s experience, however.

“I felt really happy,” Zeejah told the Daily News before catching a flight back to Long Island.

“I love my country,” she wrote in the letter, “and I want everyone to be happy and safe.”

Hinna letter



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Rashed Mian has been covering local news for the Long Island Press since 2011. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2010 where he studied print journalism. Rashed, the staff's multimedia reporter, covers daily news for the web, shoots/edits feature videos and writes about civil liberties. He loves Afghan food and sports. Rashed is also a caffeine freak. Email: Twitter: rashedmian