A small group of students gathered outside the Ezra Lehman Memorial Library Thursday to honor and remember the victims of the March 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The vigil, led by Shippensburg University Muslim Student Union members Kanza Amin and Aminala Amadou Kindo, remembered the 50 dead and 50 injured from the attacks, most of whom were Muslims attending religious services in two Christchurch mosques.
“We wanted to organize this event because it affected the Muslim community and wanted to bring light to it at Ship,” Amin explained.
The vigil began with the readings of two prayers that are often said when a group of people have passed away.
Amin and Amadou Kindo both prepared speeches to share with supporters.
Amin encouraged those who were unsure about Muslim culture and religion to ask questions.
“If you are not sure, just ask. Start a conversation,” she said. “Education is the biggest gateway to bridge the gap between someone who would do something horrific [the attack] and someone who would step up and stop it.”
Amadou Kindo shared how the attacks impacted her, despite being thousands of miles away.
“I never felt so terrified, I didn’t feel safe. I didn’t want to go outside,” she said. “I felt like going back to my home country.”
Amadou Kindo spoke of “the hurt souls of all Muslims and humanity,” as the attacks claimed people aged 3 to 77 years old.
“What had they done?” she asked.
Despite her fears, Amadou Kindo said she will remain in America.
“I won’t let them win, one person will not bring down my love for this place.”
Sophomore Averie Bye-Dickerson came to the vigil to show support for her friend.
“I think it is important to support each other no matter what religion we are,” she said. “Kanza is a good friend of mine and I will always support my friends.”
Both Amin and Amadou Kindo read off the name of each victim before holding a moment of silence and saying another prayer.
After the prayer, Amin thanked each student who attended.
“Hate repeats itself. Charleston, Pittsburgh and now New Zealand. Hate has no boundaries, it just hates,” she said. “But we have come together to show love. By being here, you are all saying how love is stronger.”