ST. LOUIS – A show of solidarity and support at St. Louis University Monday night, where dozens of students and some faculty held a vigil to honor the lives of the 51 victims killed at two mosques in New Zealand.
Organizers told FOX 2, the vigil wasn’t just about showing support for the Muslim community but also spreading the message that hatred is never the answer.
The gathering began with a call for prayer at sunset (Maghrib) then followed by several speeches to assure families of the Muslims killed in the massacre, that they are not alone in their moment of continuing grief.
“They are us, we are one community,” said Nadia Sirajuddin with the campus’ Muslim Students Association. “So part of SLU felt very affected and so the whole SLU feels affected.”
Students from all walks of life including Hindus, Jews, and Muslims want to it to be known that they condemn senseless acts of violence that spread hate, pain, and division.
“There is no distinction, we are all part of the same community,” Sirajuddin said.
Some university officials said the institution prides itself on its philosophy of inclusion, no matter what a student’s background may be.
“It’s a reminder that we are all interconnected,” said Patrick Cousins, assistant director of campus ministry. “And for that very reason, it’s important for us as a university to stand with our Muslim students, our Muslim friends to remind them that when the world is violent we want to stand together with them and let them know, we can work together for a better world.”
Those in attendance were encouraged to write letters on paper, cut in the shape of a heart to be sent to New Zealand.
“It’s so sad, it’s so hard to deal with and so difficult but at least there could be comfort knowing that they were in God’s home,” Sirajuddin said.
Jefferson City is scheduled to hold a Muslim Capitol Day on March 26 as a way to show that Missouri is a state where everyone is welcomed.