Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Roughly 50 students and members of the administration came together in Shane Lounge last night in remembrance of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha, the victims of a shooting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
In her welcome address, Ailya Vajid ‘09, Muslim Student Advisor, said that the event would “celebrate beautiful lives and mourn the loss of that life.”
Organized by the Muslim Student Association, the event opened with one student reciting the Sura Al-Fatiha, the opening passage of the Quran. Mo Lotif, Program Administrator for the Intercultural Center, and Yousaf Ravzi ‘18 then shared details about the deceased students’ lives. Barakat, 23, was a student at UNC’s School of Dentistry and had just married Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, in December. Yusor planned begin studying dentistry at UNC as well, having graduated from North Carolina State University last year. Razan Abu-Salha, 19, was Yusor’s younger sister and was studying architecture and environmental design at North Carolina State University.
Nader Helmy ‘17 was the next student to speak, reminding those gathered that “in times of tragedy, we often forget there are others who have unspeakable pain.” Helmy then shared a statement from Barakat’s father.
After Helmy spoke about his own experiences, those gathered began to share their reactions and thoughts about the tragedy. Many Muslim students, both practicing and non-practicing, shared that they feared for their own safety and the safety of their families. While some praised Swarthmore as a safe space, others shared that campus is not free of Islamophobia, be it from other students or outside visitors.
Amer Ahmed, Director of the Intercultural Center and Dean of the Sophomore Class, spoke about his experiences as a Muslim man and a social justice educator. He said that many people, even those involved in anti-racism or other social justice work, know very little about Islam. Other students echoed this sentiment, stressing that ignorance of Islam is what leads to violence like that seen at UNC on Tuesday.
Featured image courtesy of www.patriziatrani.com.