Dozens gather to remember New Zealand victims

During Friday prayer on March 15, a white supremacist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing at least 50 and wounding 50 others.

Najma Siyad, president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Augustana, talked about her own reaction when she heard of the attack during spring break.

“I was really shocked,” Siyad said. “I wasn’t able to go to bed that night.”

MSA and South Dakota Voices for Peace partnered to host a community vigil at Augustana honoring those who were killed.

Siyad said that she was saddened upon her return to campus to see that nothing had been done or was being said about the terrorist attack and realized she needed to take action when other students approached her to ask how they could show support.

The vigil, held on March 22, invited students and members of the community to gather by the Ole statue in memory of those killed and provide support to the Muslim community.

People of all races, religions and creeds gathered, some wearing headscarves as a show of support, and stood with bowed heads and somber faces as speakers read a list of names of those killed and shared scripture from the Quran.

The event was an emotional one. Many in the crowd shed tears, held hands, and hugged each other as the grief and tragedy of the event struck them.

“I am just so thankful. I know it touched a lot of people’s hearts and it touched my heart,” Siyad said.

Siyad also said that events like the vigil and other community outreach is the way to move forward and fight the kind of hate that leads to tragedies like Christchurch.

“Hate has no geography; hate has no boundaries,” Siyad said. “But I’m a strong believer that the way to overcome hate is with love.”


Photos by Kelsey Sprout

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