SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) – In times of tragedy, such as the recent terror attacks in Paris and Beirut, people all over the world come together in memory of the victims they’ve never even met.
The University of Rhode Island community held a vigil on campus Wednesday night to remember those who lost their lives in several recent acts of terrorism.
About 1,000 people attended the vigil and heard a heading in Russian in memory of victims of the Russian plane explosion in Egypt, an Arabic poem in memory of the victims of the Beirut attacks and heard a singing of France’s national anthem to remember the victims of the Paris attacks.
The URI community lit candles as a way to offer a sign of hope and peace.
URI President Dr. David Dooley says, “It’s the best way to confront and to overcome the hatreds and horrors that are the basis for our gathering to remember and to grieve.”
While some might also feel anger, the Dean of URI’s Graduate School, who is also the founder of Rhode Island’s Council for Muslim Relations, says the terrorists who kill in the name of Islam have nothing to do with the Muslim community. “Muslims are as much victims of these terrorists as everyone else.” Says Nasser H. Zawia, Ph.D.
The Muslim community is also asking to be protected as heightened security following the attacks. One Muslim student says, “We should not have to fear retaliation from those who are angry and those who misunderstand us.”
Wednesday night’s vigil ended with a moment of silence and the candles being blown out, as the president delivered a lasting message.
Dr. Dooley says, “Our community will not be defined by anger or fear, but by hope and trust, and friendship and peace.”
URI’s president also talked about how people shouldn’t be scared and isolate themselves, but instead offer a sincere welcome to all those who work and study here.
Several governors have rescinded offers to take in Syrian refugees, including Governor Charlie Baker. Governor Gina Raimondo says she will wait for word from the federal government.