N.C. killings reverberate on campus, vigil honors dead



More than 65 members of the University of Detroit Mercy community came together last week for a candlelight vigil honoring three Muslim students killed in Chapel Hill, N.C., recently.

The killings “really hit home for me,” said sophomore Sabrina Baghaie, one of several students who spoke at the “We Are Chapel Hill” ceremony in the Commerce and Finance Building Feb. 17.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, wife Yusor Mohammad and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were shot and killed in their home Feb. 10 by neighbor Craig Hicks.

Many have portrayed the deaths as part of a parking dispute but others believe the shootings were a hate crime.

On the McNichols campus before there was any dialogue, Salwa Choudhury, one of the coordinators of the event, greeted everyone who attended and asked for three minutes of silence for the lives lost.

Choudhury, a junior, said the Muslim Student Organization, University Ministry and two new organizations, Students for Justice of Palestine and Links organized the event.

Following Choudhury, Thaakier Salie, a graduate student, recited a short passage from the Quran in Arabic.

Samer Sabri, another graduate student, said an Islamic prayer followed by a Christian prayer given by Jaramys Mosley.

The evening continued with a discussion about the deaths.

Sophomore Helin Jacksi spoke about her reaction to the killings.

Alumnus Hassan Nasralah expressed his sadness over the deaths of the three students.

“I was so upset when I heard another story about Muslims being killed,” he said. But “it wasn’t in Syria or Turkey. It was here.”

Choudhury interrupted the dialogue with a statement of her own.

She said the media are trying to cover up what really happened and that the three Muslims were victims of a hate crime.

Choudhury also talked about the deaths of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown.

After other students expressed their feelings, Salie wrapped up the event with a touching sentiment.

“I’m just glad at our school we’re able to talk about things like this – people of different cultures coming together,” she said.

The candlelight vigil ended with a prayer and commemoration by Choudhury.