Holding a candle to peace efforts

Members of the Muslim Student Association and other Washington State University students honored victims of the Chapel Hill shooting, serving as a reminder of their goal: peace

A poster sits against the steps in front of Todd Hall reading, “Islam: a religion of peace.”

Washington State University’s chapter of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) held a vigil last night on the Glenn Terrell Mall for the victims of the Chapel Hill shooting in North Carolina.

Hassan Bakari, vice president of the MSA, said that the vigil was meant to raise awareness for all victims of hate and intolerance.

“This is not only for Muslims, this is for all people in general,” Bakari said. “We’re just trying to show that we care.”

The victims were Deah Bakarat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha. All three were U.S.-born Muslims and students at the University of North Carolina.

Fadumo Ali, an MSA co-chair, said she believed that the shooting was clearly a hate crime.

“They were targeted for the way that they looked,” Ali said. “As a woman that wears a hijab that could’ve been me, or my sister, or my mother, or my aunt.”

Mam Marie Njie, another MSA co-chair, stated in her speech that it is up to young people to help prevent future acts of intolerance.

“As young leaders, we should be the change we’d like to see in this world,” Njie said. “We should celebrate diversity and be more accepting toward each other.”

Ali agreed with Njie’s sentiment during her speech, stressing the importance of knowledge as well as awareness.

“As representatives of MSA, we would not only like to bring awareness of what happened in Chapel Hill, but also bring common understanding of Islam,” Ali said. “We can improve the way we treat one another, regardless of their ethnicity and religious beliefs.”

Ali said she was concerned by the shooting due to how closely she, and other college students, could identify with the victims.

“They led such ordinary lives, you know, they went to school full-time, they had plans for their future,” Ali said. “They led lives that not only Muslims, but non-Muslims could identify with. Their story is something all Americans can relate to.”

Hearing about the Chapel Hill shooting and other acts of violence in America can be especially shocking, Ali said.

“When you’re in America, you feel safe,” Ali said. “You hear about this stuff in other countries, but when it happens here, you identify with it more, it impacts you more.”

In the week following the shooting, the hashtag ‘Muslim Lives Matter’ was trending on social media. Bakari and other MSA members stressed that not just Muslim lives, but all lives, matter.

“The thing I want people to know about is that no matter what race you are, all lives matter,” Bakari said. “No matter who you are, justice should be served fairly and equally.”