After three young Muslims were killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina two weeks ago, people looked to the Queen’s University Muslim Students Association (QUMSA) to take a stand.
On Feb. 13, three days after the shooting, QUMSA set up a booth in the ARC intended to raise awareness about the shooting. At the booth was a poster for people to sign, as well as a donation box for Syrian Dental Relief, which was organized by Deah Shaddy Barakat, one of the victims.
QUMSA also made signs reading “#MuslimLivesMatter” and “#ChapelHillShooting” that supporters could be photographed with.
Reyhan Viceer, QUMSA’s chair, said it was unfortunate they didn’t see as many people as they might have due to it being the Friday before Reading Week.
“You have occasional glances, as you can see now, people come by and they just like stare at it, and they’re wondering. We had a couple people who were like, ‘we don’t have time, we’d love to sign it, we just have a bus to catch,’ because obviously, you know, the buses are leaving soon,” said Viceer, Sci ’15.
“But other than that people have been coming around, showing support, standing around … It’s a really positive thing.”
He said their main goal was to raise awareness about the shooting, and criticized the lack of media attention paid to it.
After the shooting, some criticized media outlets for focusing on allegations that the shooting was motivated by a dispute over parking, rather than a possible religious bias.
“It’s unfortunate that the media never really gave it this much attention, and so we are doing our job as a community just kind of out and raising awareness about this event, and just let people know that every life, a human life is a blessing, is important, and should be respected,” Viceer said.
“That shouldn’t be a strange concept to anyone.”
He said a lot of people — Muslims and non-Muslims alike, as well as people from the University — reached out to QUMSA following the shooting.
“I talked to the Student Life Centre to do this and, without hesitation, they were like, ‘okay we’ll give you this much space, we’ll give you this and that’, so it was really nice of them to show that support,” he said.
“We’re just really happy that we’re doing this and people are supporting it.”
Viceer said by collecting donations for the dental fund, QUMSA is hoping to continue Barakat’s, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha’s and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha’s legacy of charity.
“Two weeks before this tragic event happened, they were still doing charity, they were providing dental stuff and food for 75 homeless people, and it’s just amazing to see that someone can do this to three individuals,” he said.
QUMSA collected a total of $143 for the fund.
Viceer added that QUMSA is trying to do its part as a community to raise awareness of injustice everywhere.
“Our main goal is basically to … show in a positive way that every life is important and should be respected,” he said.
“If something’s wrong, you should speak out towards it, you shouldn’t keep it inside or just be silent. You should come out and support it.”
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