Kent State MSA holds vigil for New Zealand Victims

Maddy Haberberger

“The first person to meet the man, he said ‘Salaam, brother,’ as in ‘Peace, brother,’ like ‘Welcome’ – and he was gunned down.”

Sehar Shaikh, president of the Muslim Students Association at Kent State, reiterates the horror of the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shootings that have now claimed the lives of at least 50 worshippers and injured 40 more on Friday.

“49 people were at the time declared dead in a shooting at a mosque where we have our congregational prayers, it just was so devastating,” said Shaikh.

The shooter has been identified as 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant from Australia – he spent two years planning the shootings, fueled by anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and white supremacist values.

Sehar Shaikh and the Kent State MSA held a vigil on campus Monday evening to pay tribute to the victims. In the wake of the horrific attacks on her faith, Shaikh wants to foster support between Muslim students and our Kent State community.

“We are a minority on campus and sometimes people target us, and so just words of support and being there for people is important,” said Shaikh.

The vigil included several speakers, from university students and staff to religious officials from across Northeast Ohio. Kent State students and community members alike stood in solidarity on Risman Plaza through snow and bitter cold to honor the memory of those who lost their lives last week.

Organizations like the Muslim Students Association are now working to assure the loss their community has suffered is not in vain, fighting for peace and change across the world.

“I don’t ever wish for things like this to happen again,” said Shaikh, but the fact that it’s bringing people together means a lot to me not just as a student but as a Muslim student.”