Students from different backgrounds and organizations came together on March 31 in the Reflecting Pond to honor the lives lost in the recent global terrorist attacks. The event was held by UCF's Pakistani Student Association. Daniela Marin, Central Florida Future
Standing unified in front of the Reflecting Pond, students from eight different UCF organizations shared a common message during a March 31 Lahore Candlelight Vigil – compassion.
“I hope that if our vigil is able to accomplish anything, it is to have everyone walk away with a sense of unity, with a sense of solidarity, I hope that you walk away knowing that you are loved and that you are valued,” said Tahoorda Ateeq, president of the Pakistani Student Association at UCF.
PSA held the event in honor of the 65 lives lost during a terrorist attack in Lahore on Easter; as well as the victims of eight other terrorist attacks that occurred earlier in March in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Ivory Coast and Belgium.
“I hope there will come a day where the sanctity of human life will not be threatened the way it has repeatedly been,” Atteq told the crowd.
Among the eight other speakers was Sammy Katerji, president of UCF’s chapter of Students Organize for Syria.
He spoke of the human rights crimes that have and continue to be committed in his country and prayed for a day in which humankind could live without borders, like intended.
“Although we do have our differences… it doesn’t matter who we are because we share the same blood that courses through our veins, we shed the same tears,” he told the crowd. “And I pray for a day that one day the borders will break, and that we will live on this Earth how it was created, with no borders made by man.”
Jose Rodriguez, a UCF alumnus and priest of UCF’s Episcopal Church, also spoke at the event and said in an interview that when the PSA wanted to get together to send a message of unity, he knew immediately to join.
“There is so much dividing us that we have to take the initiative to come and stand together as one, because when one of us hurt, all of us hurt, when one of us suffers, all of us suffer,” he said.
Rasha Mubarak, a UCF alumna, attended the vigil on behalf of Florida’s Council on American-Islamic relations.
“Today we remember Brussels, we remember Iraq… we remember Turkey, we remember Pakistan. These people, these communities, they all had dreams,” she told the crowd. “These communities all shared this common familiarity, and they were greeted by the face of terror… We must congregate for unity.”
Ateeq said that the best part of the event was the speakers and the people who attended.
“The kinds of words that were exchanged today, they were such inspiring, such compassionate and such moving words and I just felt that feeling washed over me like I was being really moved by everything that was being said,” Ateeq said. “It just made me very happy to see such a diverse turn out and to see so many people standing together in compassion.”
This Monday, Students for Justice in Palestine will hold an event called Occupation Wall at the free speech lawn at 10 a.m., and on Thursday at 11 a.m., will hold a second event called Palestinian Refugee Experience.
Daniela Marin is a digital producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @dan__marin or email her at DanielaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com.