Christchurch vigil a place for students to mourn after New Zealand massacre

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On Friday, Mar. 22, Wilfrid Laurier University students and faculty participated in a vigil to honour and show solidarity for the victims and families affected by the recent act of terrorism in Christchurch, New Zealand. 

This act consisted of two consecutive mass shootings which took place at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre on Mar. 15.  

The shootings were performed by an alt-right white supremacist and targeted the Muslim community through radicalized Islamophobia. There were a total of 50 fatalities as a result and approximately 50 more injuries. 

News of these events have shaken the Muslim community across the globe and within the week, many Muslim communities and allies have joined together in camaraderie to promote peace and the protection of vulnerable Muslim people. 

Selda Sezen, Laurier’s Muslim chaplin at the Martin Luther University College, alongside the Muslim Chaplaincy of Laurier team, the Centre for Student Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the Multi Faith Resource Team and the Muslim Student Association organized the vigil, which invited students and community members to pay their respects and show their support. 

During the vigil, many emotional and courageous speeches were shared in the Martin Luther Peace Garden.

“As a member of the faith community, it is very hard to believe for me that the places of peace and worship shattered by fear and terrorist violence in Christchurch. As [a] Muslim community in Canada, we have been just recovering from the latest mosque attack in Quebec City and last Friday woke up to the news of tens of lives violently taken in New Zealand,” Sezen said in an address during the vigil.

“May Allah grant the victims with paradise and grant their families and the loved ones with serenity and patience. We are thinking of them and grieving with them.”

A student chaplaincy team member recited “The Call for Prayer” or “Adhan,” an Islamic call to worship and symbolizes the commencement of prayers; another student recited unity and peace verses from the Qur’an.

Lutheran Pastor Anne Anderson and Tenille Bonoguore, councillor for ward seven, were also in attendance to give their addresses in sympathy and support.  

“Such massacres spread fear and hate that has no place among us and has to be defeated by our unity. It is wonderful to see all the communities are gathered to build one united community after every single tragic event that targeted our multi-faith and multicultural cohesion,” Sezen said. 

“We are grateful to be a part of supportive Laurier and Luther communities … We will continue promote peace, solidarity, tolerance, dialogue, unconditional love for one another and interfaith exchanges in our diverse community.”

Following the vigil, participants were invited into the Martin Luther building’s “Grace Space” common area, where soup and bread was served over conversation and companionship. 

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