The Muslim Student Association hosted a vigil in honor of the victims of the massacre in New Zealand Friday afternoon in the Student Union.
“For us the Mosque is a second home,” Abdullah Saqib, vice president of MSA said. “We grew up in the Mosque and to see such a sanctified and homey place be devastated in this manner was horrifying for us.”
The student union atrium Friday afternoon was filled with candles and the names of the victims on the UCF Pegasus, as well as about 70 people in attendance. MSA student board, UCF interim president and the UCF police chief gave condolences and words of encouragement and unity in response to the atrocity, and how the community should respond.
“I remember saying I was so grateful for the support [in response to the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting] from the Muslim community, and I said I hope I never have the opportunity to repay you back how would that even occur?” Aaron Weil, director of Hillel center for Jewish life said. “Now here we stand as a community. The world seemingly learning nothing from these tragedies, going over this horrible repetition of senseless Islamophobia and Xenophobia that has one destination, death.”
Randah El-Gendi, sophomore MSA treasurer shared why she felt it was important to help make this event.
“We want to spread an awareness about the situation,” El-Gendi said. “We [Muslim community] want to tell people you don’t have to be Muslim to feel hurt; you don’t have to be Jewish or Hindu to feel hurt for their tragedies. Now it’s our job to honor those lives and to do better for those lives.”
Rasha Mubarak, vice president of the Muslim Women’s Organization of Orlando said this moment is a call to action to be cautious aware but not afraid.
“It’s up to us to continue this fight we need to continue unconditionally,” Mubarak said. “When a black Muslim sister in Congress is under attack and we see silence that is equivalent to violence. Islamophobia is heavily layered and all systematic oppression.”
Mubarak went on to speak about the importance of civic engagement.
“To my Muslim community, as we approach 2020 don’t let these candidates take your money, take your vote and not take your voice to Tallahassee or Washington D.C.,” Mubarak said. “Get active, get involved, because when we fight we win.”
Carl Metzger, UCF police chief spoke about the UCF response to the attack.
“Although this happened halfway around the world, the same hate has impacted us in our own backyard.” Metzger said. “It [the massacre] was heartbreaking, senseless and intended to incite violence but had the opposite effect on our amazing UCF community. We always stand together and support one another in times of darkness and it’s a blessing to see that happening again today.”