Candelight vigil held to honor lives lost in New Zealand attack

Candelight vigil held to honor lives lost in New Zealand attack

Students and faculty assembled outside Hendricks chapel in response to the attacks which left 50 dead at two mosques in Christchurch.
Published: March 20, 2019 | Updated: March 22nd, 2019 at 7:29 pm
Community members tie white ribbons around the trees in front of Hendricks Chapel on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, in memory of those who where lost in the mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Community members tie white ribbons around the trees in front of Hendricks Chapel on Tuesday in memory of those who died in the mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Despite the nearly 9000 miles between New York and New Zealand, Syracuse University staff and students gathered outside of Hendricks Chapel Tuesday evening for a candlelight vigil to honor the communities affected by the fatal shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.

Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre were attacked by a gunman during services on Friday. 50 people died, and more than 40 were hospitalized for injuries. As a result New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern is currently advocating for reforming the nation’s gun control policies.

At the campus candelight vigil this Tuesday, Dean of Hendricks Chapel Brian Konkol addressed a crowd of about 100 outside to pay homage to those in pain and suffering after the attacks.

“We know that any loss of life anywhere is ultimately a loss for everyone, everywhere,” Konkol said. “For far too many and for far too long, such hatred has been tolerated, accepted and even celebrated. There is anger in our midst, and rightfully so because even if we do believe that the arc of the universe bends towards justice, we’re convinced that it’s simply not bending fast enough.”

Amir Duric, the Muslim chaplain at SU, also spoke, saying that those in attendance were supporting each other as it’s not an attack on Muslims but an attack on humanity. “It doesn’t matter that it happened a thousands of miles away, it still impacts us here,” he said.

Canab Sheekh Nuur, vice-president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), called the shooting “tragic” and said she was feeling all kinds of emotions. “I feel happy by the amount of love and support that I’ve seen in a few days, I feel sad that [50] lives were taken for following a different faith, I feel angry at the media for they choose to cover the story by focusing on the terrorists rather on the victim,” Nuur said.

Nuur added that she does not feel any kind of hatred against the gunman, as her religion does not preach violence. “Hate is a strong word – hate inspires horrible acts to happen. Hate creates chaos,” she said, as her voice trembling from behind the podium. She encouraged the assembled crowd to approach people of different religions with compassion and love.

Nawal Ahmed, president of MSA, said that there’s currently a lot of discrimination against Muslims, so having people from different ethnicities gather for the vigil sends a strong message against terrorism. “The Muslim Students Association will probably have an event in the future – we’re thinking of doing it on Islamophobia and invite the local community to educate them more. Islam is a religion of peace, not hatred,” he said.

Ali Imran, third year Ph.D student at SU’s Physics department said people have to show solidarity and unity with those victims and people affected by tragic incidents. “We have to recognise that this happened,” Imran said. Recognising that it happened is the first step in preventing such things in the future, he added.

Konkol expressed solidarity for the Muslim community, which is once again at the receiving end of discrimination, violence and terror. “Tonight, we make a choice to remember to affirm that we belong to each other, and we need each other,” he said.

Duric recited a verse from the Quran before the supporters lit their candles in memory of the Christchurch victims, and then tied white ribbons around the branches of the nearby tree to honor them.

Outside Hendricks Chapel on Tuesday, Syracuse students take a moment of silence to remember the 50 people killed in mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Outside Hendricks Chapel, SU students take a moment of silence Tuesday to remember the 50 people killed in mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.
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