North Texas Daily

Students attend vigil for Chapel Hill shooting victims

Students attend vigil for Chapel Hill shooting victims

Students attend vigil for Chapel Hill shooting victims
February 15
23:12 2015

Paul Wedding / Senior Staff Writer

More than 100 UNT students from diverse backgrounds came together as one outside the Business Leadership Building on Feb. 15 over the shooting at Chapel Hill that occurred last Tuesday.

Deah Shaddy Bakarat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad and her 19-year-old sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were shot by a man in Chapel Hill, North Carolina over what many are calling a parking dispute, but what the speakers at the vigil believe to be a hate crime.

“This is a way to bring everyone together to eradicate hatred all around the world,” marketing director of the UNT Muslim Student Association Raabia Ansari said.

Multiple speakers from different organizations spoke to the crowd about the importance of the event. The crowd carried signs with sayings such as “choose love,” “community” and “stop the hate.”

Many students from other backgrounds came to the vigil to show their support as well.

“It’s a good thing to show that we’re involved with people of other faiths,” said graduate student Taylor Williams, who is involved with the Methodist church on campus. “Not every Christian is a bigot.”

Ansari started the vigil by explaining the shooting and expressing the importance of coming together.

“Hatred affects everyone,” she said. “We can no longer be marginalized into groups. We must come together as one.”

Zohaib Salin, a family friend of the slain couple, spoke at the event. Despite never meeting the victims, he said he was very shaken by the event.

“It got me thinking, ‘How would people remember me?'” he said.

Salin stressed they were gathered there to congratulate the three for standing for what they believed in, and to always remember them.

Alpha Lambda Mu president Ali Mahmoud spoke to the crowd about the media’s marginalization of the event, mentioning Inside Edition’s discussion of how to park properly at a mall immediately after the Chapel Hill shooting, calling it mocking and dehumanizing.

Anthropology senior Amy Mayo spoke about quelling Islamophobia and recited a poem recounting her own attempts at understanding Islam.

She felt all of her efforts at helping others understand Islam may be in vain due to events such as Chapel Hill, but she was not deterred.

“If I give up, then fear, hate, Islamophobia and terrorist groups like ISIS would win,” she said. “We are worthy of nothing less than love.”

The last speaker was Alia Salem, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Texas. She gave the crowd a solution to help fight against hatred.

“Meet someone new every day,” she said. “It is proven that meeting people from different backgrounds busts down stereotypes.”

She said approximately 40 to 50 percent of individuals in the U.S. have a poor opinion of Muslims although the same number of people have never met a Muslim.

Salem had the crowd recite a pledge with her that required they all report hate and spread peace.

“We need to stop turning a blind eye to this stuff,” she said. “If we don’t get out of all of this as better people, then we have failed.”

The night ended with a moment of silence for the three Muslims killed in Chapel Hill and to think about all of the lives that have been taken in the name of hate.

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