Continue to end for photos from vigil.
On February 12, a candlelight vigil was held in honour of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha, three Muslim students murdered on February 10 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. McGill students and Montreal residents alike showed up to stand in solidarity with the three victims of what many have condemned as a hate crime.
The vigil started at the Roddick Gates before slowly making its way toward the Y-intersection. Participants engaged in a moment of silence for the three students before coordinators shared information about the lives and accomplishments of Deah, Yusor, and Razan. There were also several readings from the Qur’an.
One coordinator, Yara Hammami, shared with attendees, “My friends, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of three beautiful lives [who] selflessly contributed toward the betterment of other lives.”
“How a man can kill three innocent lives is something beyond all of us here,” stated Summia Saed Aldien, another event organizer.
When reading the mainstream media’s coverage of the murders, Aldien called for attendants to “not be naive and accept what the media has been trying to feed us.”
“The murderer is not a deranged, psychotic deviant. We need to acknowledge that this is part of an ongoing institutionalized system that condones, caters [to], and even [commits] violence toward Muslims.”
Antonius Petro, a vigil participant, noted the discrepancies between media coverage of the Charlie Hebdo attack and the murders in Chapel Hill. Petro stressed that media coverage of the shooting at Chapel Hill has been far less extensive. “Half my classmates don’t know what happened,” said Petro of the Chapel Hill shooting.
We need to acknowledge that this is part of an ongoing institutionalized system that condones, caters [to], and even [commits] violence toward Muslims.
Liza Riitters, a McGill student from Chapel Hill, said, “I feel like more people need to pay more attention to this because this isn’t really an isolated incident. Stuff like this happens all the time.”
“The whole thing about the parking dispute kind of pisses me off,” she added.
Aya Siblini echoed this disappointment with media coverage of the killings, and criticized a specific CBS news segment covering the shooting, which attributed it to a parking dispute, and used the homicide to transition into a segment with tips on how to find parking at the mall.
“To me that seems like the media is dehumanizing or normalizing the thing, or just pushing it aside and not giving it the value that it deserves,” Siblini said.
Before the vigil, Aldien spoke to the crowd, condemning the murders and the subsequent media coverage.
“We are here to show the world that we will stand united in the face of bigotry and hate crimes, and to reject this crime as simply a dispute over a parking spot.”
Ammar Saed, a McGill student who read a passage from the Qur’an at the beginning of the vigil, expressed his approval of the way in which the event paid tribute to the shooting victims.
“It’s a peaceful way to celebrate these people’s lives, and at the same time to tell people that the media hasn’t covered [this] enough, the hatred crime that has happened,” Saed said.
Aldien also tied the events of the week to other lost lives by paying respects to other victims. “Let us honour the lives lost in Gaza, Douma, Burma, Ferguson, Yemen – the list goes on,” stated Aldien.
“I believe in actions, I believe in demonstrations,” said Petro. “We should not stop here. We should do this over, and over, and over.”