UCSB Muslim Student Association holds vigil for New Zealand attack
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On March 18 the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at UC Santa Barbara held a vigil at Storke Tower to honor the lives that were lost at the Christchurch Mosque terrorist attack on March 15. The Daily Nexus reports that over 200 people—faculty, students, and community—were present to stand in solidarity with the many in New Zealand who are suffering as a result of the shootings.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has labelled the event a “terrorist attack.” According to Vox, 42 people were killed at the shooter’s first target, the Al Noor Mosque, and seven more at his second target, the Linwood Mosque. As reported by CNN, at least 50 people were left injured as well, with 12 still in critical condition. Those that attended the vigil
gave speeches and read poems that ultimately resounded the same sentiment that love will triumph over hate, according to the Daily Nexus. Its purpose, explained MSA member Ramy Rabie, was “to remember and honor the 51 beautiful people that the world lost due to a monster…to help relieve our heartaches and to show solidarity to all the families facing this tragedy.” Rabie approached MSA President Huda Faiz with the idea of holding a vigil after hearing news of the shootings. Faiz echoed his desire, wanting to focus on doing something to “[honor] the victims, not focus on the shooter,” reports the Daily Nexus. In addition to speeches and literature readings, The Bottom Line reports that some attendees concluded the vigil by conducting the Islamic funeral prayer (Ṣalāt al-Janāzah), and as each victim’s name was read aloud after a moment of silence, a white rose was placed in a vase at the center to specifically recognize each victim and his/her story that has been lost.
UCSB student Emma Anderson heard the news of the shootings through the Christian club at the university, and says she felt compelled to support her peers and “physically represent God’s unseen grief.”
“Unfortunately, receiving news of a shooting has become a common aspect of my rhythm of life,” says Anderson, “but…it is difficult to fully wrap my mind around.”
As reported by The Bottom Line, students like Faiz and Rabie experienced “a roller coaster of feelings” after the shootings, and Anderson explained that “hearing students that are a part of UCSB’s MSA made [her] realize the impact this was having emotionally on Muslim students at UCSB.”
Though the vigil took place during finals week, the turnout was quite large, and according to Anderson “the Muslim students that spoke thanked the crowd multiple times for attending.” Her hope “is that UCSB’s Muslim students felt cared for and supported,” a desire that surely isn’t limited to the students who attended the vigil. In fact, Faiz stated that the support the UCSB community has given to the MSA and its members has been “overwhelming,” a true testament to the power of love over hate.