Members of the USF community gathered at Gleeson Plaza recently to remember three University of North Carolina students who were killed Feb. 10 at their off-campus Chapel Hill apartment — a crime that some Muslim leaders suggest reflects a tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.
Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19; were shot over what initial reports claimed was a parking space dispute but that some believe was a hate crime.
The vigil, organized on Feb. 20 by USF’s Muslim Student Association (MSA), was a chance for USFers to pray for the UNC students’ families, to listen to community members’ concerns, and to reaffirm the university’s commitment to religious diversity and social justice. Imam Abu Al-Amin, of the San Francisco Muslim Community Center, joined the event as a featured speaker.
“At the vigil, non-Muslims and Muslims alike spoke of their frustration with how poorly Muslims, Islam and those perceived as Muslims are portrayed in the media, as well as how much they believe in the importance of having these kinds of events in the public to bring awareness to the injustice and to the changes need to happen,” said Verdah Kazi ’16, MSA president.
Another objective was to highlight USF as a place of strength though diversity, said Julia Dowd, director of University Ministry, which supported the event. “It’s important to realize that there are many, many ways to experience God’s loving and peaceful presence in our lives,” Dowd said.