Vigil For New Zealand Christchurch Shooting

Vigil For New Zealand Christchurch Shooting

The subtle blues and pinks of an emerging sunset draped the sky by the quiet Calaveras River. As campus was starting to settle down last Wednesday night, Pacific’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Religious and Spiritual Life (RSA) arranged a vigil to honor the victims of the shooting that occurred on March 15th in Christchurch, New Zealand at the Al Noor Mosque. The attack killed 50 people and left 50 others injured during an Islamic Friday Prayer. The vigil was located on the Calaveras Bridge.

The vigil titled “Building a Bridge of Hope to New Zealand and to All Muslim Communities” aimed to offer a safe place for all communities of people no matter, race or religion to come and mourn the lives of the victims. The vigil was meant to remember the victims of  the tragedy, but also provide a community for people who felt isolated and did not have a support system. “There is a lot of people who live in Stockton who don’t have anyone to show them support so coming out as a community. It is not only a thing for Muslims, it is a thing for humanity,” said MSA member, Aleena Khan, 21’

The vigil started off with a prayer and included speeches given by countless members of Pacific’s Religious and Spiritual Life Committee. Prayers were spoken and sung in both English and Arabic. The speakers included MSA member Hyam Khou, 21’, RSA Associate Multi-faith Chaplain Laura Steep, Sheik (Scholar) Muhammad, and Ryland Fernandez, 21’. The speakers talked about the importance of showing kindness to everyone and how hate was the result of ignorance.

50 candles were placed along the bridge- each one representing one life lost. A group of students took turns saying the names of each victim. In addition to that, students held poster boards that had pictures and summaries of each victim of the tragedy.

When asked about what the goal of the vigil was, Khan said, “Our goal is to show support. No matter what race you are, we are humans and we are all in this together. We are trying to build bridges- whether if you are Muslim or non- Muslim.”

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Jo Ann Kirby