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Students gather for candlelit vigil after Christchurch attacks

By Esther Chong

T.W. Islamophobia

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,

Ghulam Hussain

Karam Bibi

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

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