#MuslimLivesMatter at Stony Brook University

On the evening of Feb. 10, 2015, in Chapel Hill, N.C., two phone calls were made to 911 reporting gunshots and piercing screams through a condominium complex near the University of North Carolina. Craig Stephen Hicks, allegedly shot and killed Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha,19.

The killing of the three students led to a national debate whether the students were victims of a hate crime. The incident quickly spread throughout Twitter, with the phrase #MuslimLivesMatter.

The Muslim Student Association at Stony Brook University held a Chapel Hill Shooting Candlelight Vigil on Feb. 17, 2015, in the Auditorium of the Students Activity Center.

  “These are the faces we are mourning tonight but also celebrating their life and celebrating your life,” said Sanaa Nadim, Muslim Chaplain for Stony Brook University’s Interfaith Center. A variety of speakers, such as, Rabbi Topek, Dr. Ellen Driscol, Vivian Abbas and Verdah Ahmad expressed their feelings on the Chapel Hill shooting. They also spoke on standing up together as one culture, in a nonviolent solidarity movement.  

Nawal Ahmed, a biology and political science major at Stony Brook University.
Nawal Ahmed, a biology and political science major at Stony Brook University.

“I think stony brook has been very inclusive, regarding many different religious groups and cultural groups. I personally have felt very safe here,” said Nawal Ahmed, a biology and political science major, on her experience at Stony Brook University.

Taubahn Esmaelsadah, a freshman at Stony Brook University, described being heartbroken over the Chapel Hill Shooting. She described Hicks, the alleged killer of the three students, as being in a “fog.” She continued, “people need to get out of that fog sometimes and start facing reality. We’re all the same people, living the same life, trying to achieve the same goals. At the end of the day I just think were all human and this world is all about peace and that’s how we should start living.”

Taubahn Esmaelsadah, a freshman at Stony University holding up a candle during the Chapel Hill Candlelight Vigil at Stony Brook University.
Taubahn Esmaelsadah, a freshman at Stony University holding up a candle during the Chapel Hill Candlelight Vigil at Stony Brook University.

Esmaelsadah said she is thankful for her experience at Stony Brook University. “I think this college has done it’s job with diversity and coming here is just home. I love being here and interacting with different cultures, different people and what I love about this school is no one feels like the outcast, everyone is here to stride and succeed in life and its just wonderful,” said Esmaelsadah.

Mudassir Syed, president of the Muslim Student Association, described the Chapel Hill shooting as a tragic event that has greatly affected the Muslim community. The best lesson to take-away from the tragedy, is to live behind a positive legacy as the three victims did and to really make the most of life, said Syed. 

Students holding up their cellphones during the Chapel Hill Candlelight Vigil at Stony Brook University.
Students holding up their cellphones during the Chapel Hill Candlelight Vigil at Stony Brook University.

In closing, Dr. Hafiz ul Rahman had the audience recite “Muslim lives matter, all lives matter.”

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