Students gather for candlelit vigil after Christchurch attacks
By Esther Chong
The names of student speakers have been redacted for safety and security considerations.
Candles illuminated Fisher Fountain, tears were shed and hugs were shared among a crowd on Wednesday, March 20. Students returned from Western’s prayer room after an intermission held for Maghrib prayer right after sunset. Community members gathered in Red Square for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims and those impacted by the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Muslim Student Association and Arab Student Association organized the vigil during finals week, a few days after the attack. With over 70 people in attendance, student speakers shared the impact this has had on them and the Muslim community around the world.
Western’s president shared his thoughts, saying that many of the victims were from Pakistan, his home country.
“Individuals and their families will be impacted for generations,” Randhawa said.
One student described the pain and harm Muslim people face for existing and practicing their faith.
“It can happen here, it can happen to someone we know,” he said.
Another student shared his parents’ fears, advising him to shave his beard, finish his quarter at Western and return home.
“We cannot let these tragedies break us,” a student said. “I’m not going to change me or my lifestyle,” he said.
A student speaker and organizer addressed the terrorism against Islam in China, Yemen and Iraq.
“You see that white supremacy is everywhere and has created genocides for generations,” she said. “Muslims have been grieving for a very long time… Muslims are dying all over the world and they treat Islam like a disease.”
She said New Zealand got more support than other attacks because it occurred in a westernized country. She blamed U.S. politicians for perpetuating false and dangerous ideologies about Islamic communities.
“Iraq has been destroyed and the U.S. only calls it a mistake,” she said.
Students said non-Muslims need to be supportive and use their abilities and privileges to start a dialogue with their family members and peers. They said Western’s community needs to work on being mindful of their experiences and the language used to describe the Islamic community.
“In a world that makes us feel alone and hated, it means so much to support,” a speaker said. “Pick one thing you’d like to change leaving here and blow out your candle.”
A white supremacist murdered 50 people and wounded 40 others in two mosques, the worst massacre in New Zealand’s history on March 15, according to Al Jazeera.
The names and biographies of the identified victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings can be found here.
Mucaad Ibrahim, 3 years old
Naeem Rashid, 51 years old, and his son
Talha Naeem, 21 years old
Haji Daoud Nabi, 71 years old
Abdus Samad, 67 years old
Hosne Ara Parvin, 42 years old
Khalid Mustafa, 44 years old, and his son
Hamza Mustafa, 16 years old
Junaid Ismail, 36 years old
Mohsen Al Harbi, 63 years old
Areeb Ahmed, 26 years old
Lilik Abdul Hamid, 58 years old
Atta Mohammad Elayyan, 33 years old
Jahandad Ali, 34 years old
Haroon Mahmood, 40 years old
Amjad Hamid, 57 years old,
Osama Adnan Abu Kweik, 37 years old
Sohail Shahid, 40 years old
Abdul Fattah Qassim al-Daqqah, 59 years old
Ali Elmadani, 65 years old
Kamel Darwish, 38 years old
Maheboob Khokhar, 65 years old
Asif Vora and his son, 56 years old
Ramiz Vora, 28 years old
Ansi Alibava, 23 years old
Ozair Kadir, 25 years old
Munir Suleiman, 68 years old
Ahmed Jamal al-Din Abdul Ghani, 68 years old
Ashraf al-Masri, father of three
Matiullah Safi, 55 years old
Zeeshan Raza 38 years old, and his parents,
Muse Awale, 77 years old
Abdukadir Elmi, 66 years old
Hussein al-Umari, 35 years old
Mohammed Imran Khan, 47 years old
Source: Al Jazeera