Students and community members are hoping that a vigil to remember the victims of the recent massacre at a mosque in New Zealand that killed 50 people will bring together the community at a time when it’s desperately needed. The community is invited to the University of Wisconsin Library Mall on Thursday, March 21, 7:30 p.m., to join students, hear from members of the Muslim community and to mourn those lost in the Christchurch shooting.
The carefully planned attack last Friday took place as hundreds of people were praying at one of two mosques. Fifty innocent lives were taken that day and the victims ranged in age from 2 to 71. The suspected shooter, Brenton Tarrant, is a 28-year-old white male with extensive white supremacist views. He was charged with murder on Saturday.
Organizers of Thursday’s vigil at Library Mall said in a press release that this shooting is just another example of senseless acts of Islamophobia and hate which perpetuate violence like this everywhere. They added that this vigil will also be a chance for students to recognize that gun violence is being perpetuated by lax gun regulations that allow average citizens access to semi-automatic and assault rifles.
“This has proven to be the deadliest attack in New Zealand history,” says Selma Fustok, a member of the Muslim community in Madison, in a statement.
Save Our Students(SOS) Madison and the Muslim Student Associations across Dane County will co-host the vigil. Attendees will hear from Muslim students and members of the Muslim community in Dane County.
Organizers are praising the Prime Minister of New Zealand for taking the necessary and proper steps to address gun violence following the massacre. The vigil will focus on community healing and coming together after the tragic loss of 50 innocent victims.
“We want to show everyone that we will not remain silent anymore,” Ayah Halabi, a student at James Madison Memorial High School, said in a statement. “We’ve become numb to the hatred and it’s time for us to take a stand.”
Attendees are encouraged to gather at 7:30 p.m. at Library Mall for the candlelight vigil. The event is open to the public.