Vigil held at Queen Mary University in Mile End for New Zealand terror attack victims
PUBLISHED: 19:11 22 March 2019 | UPDATED: 19:15 22 March 2019
Students have been told to take a stand against racism and Islamophobia at a vigil for the 50 people killed in the New Zealand terror attack.
About 400 young people filled a square outside the library at Queen Mary University’s Mile End campus on Friday to pay respects to the dead one week after two mosques in the city of Christchurch were targeted.
Addressing the crowd, co-organiser Munadiah Aftab said: “[The victims] have gone to heaven. We remain to demand justice.”
The 21-year old politics and economics student called for everyone to mobilise to stop Islamophobia and white supremacy.
Youngsters from universities across the capital joined Queen Mary students standing next to prayer mats laid on the ground in tribute to those who died. A single rose lying on each one. The crowd listened to recitations from the Qur’an.
Some then wept as the names of the victims and a brief description of their lives were read out while their pictures, hung on bunting between trees, waved in the cold breeze.
In a powerful speech, Rev Nims Obunge said: “What happened in Christchurch has produced fear all over the world.
“It’s our responsibility to be united against such evil irrespective of our faith, irrespective of our race.
“The future is built on the beliefs and the actions we take today and everyday. We cannot afford to be segregated.”
Speakers attacked the mainstream media for making Islamophobia seem normal and poisoning people’s minds while the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy which was criticised for targeting muslims disproportionately.
Islamic cleric Shaykh Fadel Solimon led a prayer in which he called on Allah to grant protection from evil-doers.
“Open for us the deaf ears and the blind eyes, and soften for us the hardest of hearts. Oh Allah, you are our protector. Grant us victory over our own egos and over the evil-doers,” he said.
Zoology student, Aphrodite Liddington, who was among the crowd, said what happened in New Zealand could happen anywhere.
“We need to remember that. In hard times, I hope people come together,” she said.
Politics student, Hafsah Dabiri, 20, said: “This is a pivotal moment. Things can really change from now on.
“We are here because we have to honour the legacy of those who died.”