On March 21, around 70 Kenyon community members gathered in front of Rosse Hall for a vigil to recognize those who lost their lives in the shootings at al Noor mosque and Linwood mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15.
At least 50 people were killed and just as many injuried in the terrorist attack. The perpetrator, a 28-year-old Australian citizen, announced his mass killing over social media, before streaming it live on Facebook. Police said that the alleged shooter was arrested in a car which was carrying improvised explosive devices, according to a March 15 New York Times article.
The vigil, sponsored by the Muslim Student Association and the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, began with students reading the names of the those who were killed in the shooting. Following the recitation of the victims’ names, Professor of Mathematics Nuh Aydin spoke. “Unfortunately, we are here again after another attack,” he said. “Bigotry, hatred, violence and criminal encounters are human problems. They exist in every community and every nation. We need to recognize that it is not specific to any particular group of people.”
Aydin continued by noting that the attack served as a reminder of the perils of dehumanizing and demonizing certain populations. He encouraged those in attendance to reject this sort of behavior whenever they came across it. “I ask myself and all of us not to be bystanders in the face of hatred, violence and injustice,” he said.
After Aydin spoke, the group took part in a moment of silence to commemorate the victims. Following this memorial, other professors and students made comments.
“In my opinion, contrary to what many mainstream news outlets would tell the public, this hate is not an isolated incident,” Malik Ahmed Khan ’19 said. “It isn’t a lone gunman but an entire ideology that perpetuates this hatred on a daily basis.”
Another student, Mustafa Aziz ’19, made concluding remarks and encouraged those in attendance to ask themselves what Islam really is.
“It is scary to think how drastic the consequences can be when a process that is driven by a misunderstanding takes place. But perhaps that can be said of every tragedy in human history, in some way or the other. It is motivated by a misunderstanding,” Aziz said. “We hope that this event will serve as an opportunity for all of us to mourn the loss of those whom we have lost … and engage in the common struggle against all those forces that are responsible for the occurrence of such events.”