SU’s Muslim Student Association hosts ‘Prayers for Peace Vigil’
Joe Zhao | Asst. Photo Editor
Attendees at the vigil called for humanity and peace, which Imam Durić, the Muslim chaplain at SU, said gave him a sense of hope and empowerment as conflict continues in the region.
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Syracuse University’s Muslim Student Association held a “Prayers for Peace” vigil Wednesday night outside Hendricks Chapel to honor the lives lost during the Israel-Hamas war.
Around 150 students, faculty, staff and families gathered to hear the speeches from MSA student representatives, including MSA president Khadija Sharif and Imam Durić, the Muslim chaplain at SU. Durić and Assistant Muslim Chaplain Imam Dzemal Crnkić led a prayer for safety and resolution during the vigil.
“It’s really important to have events like this, to build bridges rather than burn them and to invite people to come together, support each other, to try to feel for each other, to empathize,” Durić said. “This is (a) time when we need to wake up our hearts.”
Attendees at the vigil called for humanity and peace, which Durić said gave him a sense of hope and empowerment as conflict continues in the region.
On Oct. 7, Hamas, a militant group, launched an attack on Israel. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas. As of Oct. 12, 1,300 people have been killed by Hamas in Israel, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The United Nations rights chief condemned the siege, calling it illegal under international law. The Israeli government has since announced it will “not thwart humanitarian supplies” entering from Egypt, though as of Wednesday it is still unclear when aid will enter Gaza. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced $100 million in humanitarian aid to the territory.
Israel’s bombardment has killed around 3,000 people in Gaza since the initial attacks as of Tuesday, according to health officials, the BBC wrote.
Sharif, a part-time junior at SU, said that even with constant reminders of the war, it is comforting to know that people in the campus community back her.
“That’s all I’m seeing. That’s all I’m digesting. That’s all that’s on my mind. I’m in class and what I’m thinking is that there’s people dying,” Sharif said. “For people to all come in solidarity, and for everyone to recognize it’s happening, to be in a space where you are seen and other people share that compassion and that worry too, just means the most.”
Durić said that after witnessing the community support during last week’s peace vigil for Israel hosted by Syracuse Hillel and Chabad House Jewish Center, he felt hopeful that the university community may lead change for the future.
“I know that tonight we have members of (the) Jewish community attending this event, ‘Prayers for Peace,’ which gives hope that we are willing to model and to lead change and to lead that path towards healing and recovery,” he said.
Hamas is currently governing the Gaza Strip, a stretch of land along the Mediterranean Sea which is home to 2.1 million Palestinians. Human rights groups in the past have raised concerns about the conditions imposed by Israel on Gaza. Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said the area is an “open-air prison.”
Relief groups are calling for humanitarian aid in Gaza as Palestinians are in need of food, water, fuel and medical supplies as resources dwindle, according to CNN.
Sharif said dedicated spaces like Wednesday night’s vigil help people feel recognized on campus. She said MSA has received messages of support from people in the campus community who are not Muslim.
“People are just seeing this humanitarian crisis and are called to just come and to support in any way that they can, so it’s been definitely a whole collective action,” Sharif said.
Weli Dahir, the co-chair of MSA and a junior studying policy studies, said it was a collective effort by MSA to organize the vigil.
“We’re just trying to spread peace and love throughout the world,” Dahir said. “With all these hard times and difficulties going on, we just want it to be the first step for change for the better and to set an example.”
Dahir also said he was grateful to have been part of planning such an event.
At the end of the vigil, Sharif emphasized that people can help by donating to Islamic Relief USA, educating themselves and being careful of misinformation. While tension remains and the conflict continues, she said, it is important to “fill each other’s cups” by building a community people can be proud of.
“You are not alone. We all feel this burden to want to do something, and only with this collective action, putting that energy towards actually moving forward will something happen,” Sharif said.