Lex Spirtes, Photo Editor

Lex Spirtes, Photo Editor

On Monday, April 4, a vigil was held in Exley Science Center for the victims of a Taliban bombing in Lahore, Pakistan on March 27. The suicide blast happened on Easter Sunday this year, killing 69 people and wounding more than 400. Since the bombing took place in a park, most of those affected were women and children. 

News sources have said that the perpetrators intentionally targeted Christians. Christians make up two percent of the Pakistani population, and there are growing tensions between the Christian population and the “hardline” Muslim population that wants to see a strict interpretation of Islamic law. The Taliban has taken responsibility for the bombing, following another suicide bombing on a Christian community in Lahore in March of last year. 

The vigil took place on Monday and began with a few words from Azher Jaweed ’19, the organizer of the event. There was then a moment of silence, followed by an open space for anyone who wanted to share thoughts and feelings about the event that transpired.

Jaweed planned the event as he thought there was not much exposure to terrorist attacks happening in the non-Western world.

“I guess the reason why we don’t talk about deaths in the non-Western world, particularly in countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, is because it’s partly seen as ‘natural’ and seen as part of the ‘war turmoil’ that happens in the environment,” Jaweed said. “Quite frankly, by putting it distant from us, we accept these as attacks as a world that we will never come across and never care about.

Jaweed also aimed to use the event to create a connection with the victims of the bombing, even though they are on the other side of the world.

“Part of the vigil was trying to put faces behind those numbers and trying to show that even though these people are on the other side of the planet, their lives are remembered and should not be forgotten,” Jaweed said. “Steps should be taken to prevent further deaths, and I think awareness is just the beginning of that.”

Those in attendance believed that this was relatively successful. Justin Campos ’19 thought it was a powerful event.

“I think it was really impactful, especially as someone who is not of Muslim descent or who has relatives in Pakistan,” Campos said.

Campos also talked about the necessity of people staying together in times of terror, no matter where they come from.

“It was really powerful and really sent a message of sticking together and—even though we usually try to make bonds with other Western countries—reach out to non-Western countries during times of terror,” Campos said. “I think it’s also very important because we don’t do that very often.”

Robin Waterman ’19, believed the vigil was important and helped increase awareness about the student group Shakti on campus.

“I thought the vigil was extremely important and I think it really made a name for Shakti because a lot of people on campus know them as celebrating Southeastern culture, which of course has a really important role,” Waterman said. “But I hadn’t really seen them before as an activist and social issue group, so I thought it was really cool to see that side of the student group and I hope to see events like that in the future.”

Waterman echoed the sentiment of the necessity of standing together in times of terror.

“The vigil itself was really powerful,” Waterman said. “I loved that we were all standing in a circle and got to hear a personal story from one of the Shakti members, which connected it really well to everyone instead of just saying ‘here is a number.’”

The event, according to attendees, was very meaningful, and there was a general sentiment that people need to know more about attacks that happen on the other side of the world.

“I think a lot of people would not have heard of this tragedy without the vigil, and I only wish [the vigil] could have been bigger, because this is the kind of thing everyone should know about,” Waterman said.

With additional reporting by Azher Jaweed ’19, Staff Writer. 

  • Arafat

    Thanks to devout Muslim jihadists we could hold vigils every day. (Sad but true.)
    4/8/16…Karachi, Pakistan: 3 Shi’ites gunned down by Sunnis after Friday praters.
    4/6/16…Aleppo, Syria: 18 killed/70 injured after Muslim terrorists fire rockets into Kurdish neighborhood.
    4/6/16…Diffa, Niger: 3 killed/3 injured by Fedayeen suicide bomber.
    4/5/16…Parwan, Afghanistan: 6 killed/22 injured when a suicide bomber detonates near a school.
    4/4/16…Nasiriyah, Iraq: 14 dead/27 injured when a Sunni suicide bomber detonates outside a Shiite restaurant.
    4.2.16…Palmyra, Syria: 40 bodies discovered in a mass grace including women and children.
    3/31/16…Galkayo, Somalia: 9 killed/10 injured by a Shadid suicide bomber.
    3/29/16…Baghdad, Iraq: 7 killed/23 injured by another Shadid suicide bomber.

    • Ralphiec88

      One can reasonably question whether these jihadis are really devout. For example the 9/11 attackers were drinking alcohol and hitting strip bars in the weeks before the attack. Seems like their politics meant a lot more to them than their faith.

      • Arafat

        Yeah, right.
        When jihadists – and this includes the 9/11 mass murderers – ,shout out “Allahu Akbar” before beheading women it is probably a political statement and “Allahu Akbar” is unrelated to their motivation.
        In fact when Mohammed led 60 battles in the aim of spreading Islam and against the villages surrounding Medina his motivation was not in praise of Allah so much as in expressing his frustrations with the Donald Trump.
        Your logic is irrefutable. {Sarc/off}

      • Ralphiec88

        I’m not saying religion (or the corruption of religion) plays no part. Religion’s been misused to convince people to do horrible things since the beginning of history. But you can’t ignore facts like terrorists drinking and partying just because it’s inconvenient to the narrative you want.

      • Arafat

        Fair enough, Ralphie, but how does this not fit in with Islam?
        Mohammed and his jihadist followers would revel after victory. They would rape newly enslaved women and party just as the 9/11 bombers did beforehand.
        Using your logic it would follow that Mohammed (Islam’s prophet) was not following Islam’s tenets.
        Bottom line is you’re wrong. Islam spread across a large section of the globe because Islam’s core tenets insist Muslims conquer the world through any means necessary. Even if the 9/11 mass murderers did not follow all Islamic values (and I am not conceding this is the case) their principle motivation was to kill infidels in the name of Allah, and for you suggest there was a political component to this that was above and beyond Islam says more about your lack of understanding of Islam than it says about anything else.
        Islam is politics. Islam is everything for Muslims. Islam means “submission” to all things Islamic and to never question Allah. Islam is all encompassing from the religious to the political and everything in-between.
        In Christianity there is a clear division between the political and religious. Christ said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” I challenge you to find one single verse in the Qur’an, Hadiths or Sunna which encourages separation of church and state.
        Unlike Jesus, Mohammed was a brutal megalomaniac. No amount of power was enough fro Mohammed. He literally created a religion bent on world domination, and by whatever means were necessary to accomplish this goal.
        The 9/11 bombers are lionized throughout the Muslim world. Poll after poll shows a majority of Muslims admire what it is they did. In a Muslim’s mind the bombers are now reveling in a paradise filled with virgins. How does all this fit into your convoluted logic?

      • Ralphiec88

        “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” Numbers 31:16-18

        Logic would follow that a similarly selective reading of the Bible would lead you down some very dark paths, as it has with others. I’m a Christian, but I work with many American Muslims who are just like you and me other than how they pray. We should be very careful about such judgements of other people’s faiths.

      • Arafat

        Other Religions Kill Too

        The Game:Bringing other religions down to the level of Islam is a favorite tactic of apologists confronted with the spectacle of Islamic violence. Remember Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber? How about Anders Breivik, the Norwegian killer? Why pick on Islam if other religions have the same problems?
        The Truth:Because they don’t.

        Regardless of what his birth certificate may or may not have said, Timothy McVeigh was not a religious man (in fact, he stated explicitly that he was agnostic and that “science” was his religion). At no time did he credit his deeds to religion, quote Bible verses, or claim that he killed for Jesus. His motives are very well documented through interviews and research. God is never mentioned.

        The so-called “members of other faiths” alluded to by Muslims are nearly always just nominal members who have no active involvement. They are neither inspired by, nor do they credit religion as Muslim terrorists do – and this is what makes it a very different matter.

        Islam is associated with Islamic terrorism because that is the association that the terrorists themselves choose to make.

        Muslims who compare crime committed by people who happen to be nominal members of other religions to religious terror committed explicitly in the name of Islam are comparing apples to oranges.

        Yes, some of the abortion clinic bombers were religious, but consider the scope of the problem. There have been six deadly attacks over a 36 year period in the U.S. Eight people died. This is an average of one death every 4.5 years.

        By contrast, Islamic terrorists staged nearly ten thousand deadly attacks in just the six years following September 11th, 2001. If one goes back to 1971, when Muslim armies in Bangladesh began the mass slaughter of Hindus, through the years of Jihad in the Sudan, Kashmir and Algeria, and the present-day Sunni-Shia violence in Iraq, the number of innocents killed in the name of Islam probably exceeds five million over this same period.

        Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 innocents in a lone rampage on July 22nd, 2011, was originally misidentified as a “Christian fundamentalist” by the police. In fact, the killings were later determined to be politically motivated. He also left behind a detailed 1500 page manifesto in which he stated that he is not religious, does not know if God exists, and prefers a secular state to a theocracy. Needless to say, he does not quote any Bible verses in support of his killing spree, nor did he shout “praise the Lord” as he picked people off.

        In the last ten years, there have been perhaps a dozen or so religiously-inspired killings by people of all other faiths combined. When such a small handful or loners act in isolation, it can legitimately be chalked up to mental illness or (at best) genuine misunderstanding.

        By contrast, Islamic terror is organized and methodical. Islamist groups span the globe with tens of thousands of dedicated members, despite intensely targeted counter-measures, and supporters numbering in the tens of millions. They are open about their religious goals and they kill in the name of god each and every day of the year. Verses in their holy texts arguably support them. There are none who will even debate them.

        No other religion is doing this. So while some Muslims may pretend that other religions are just as prone to “misinterpretation” as is their “perfect” one, reality says otherwise.

      • Ralphiec88

        I’m not bringing anything to anything. How about considering points that I did make rather than responding to claims of others?

      • Arafat

        But I did respond to you. If you cannot understand this then it appears you are not open to information that contradicts your false memes.

      • Ralphiec88

        Um, no. You asked “how does this not fit with Islam?” I pointed out that:
        a. Islam for most Americans (and many others) looks nothing like the crazed jihidis you cite; and
        b. Just as with the Koran which you cited, one can pick numerous passages out of the Bible that taken selectively would condone actions that are not reflective of many Christians or Jews for whom that book is sacred.
        You went off on McVeigh, Breivig, and various others who I didn’t mention and were dubiously Christian at best. However go back more than 10 years and you get to the Troubles in Ireland. Those of us who remember that time remember terrible immoral acts committed mostly for political reasons but wrapped in the language of religious intolerance.
        Likewise there are whole towns in the Southwest where middle-aged guys cite scripture to marry little girls. Are they committed to their doctrine? Sure. Are they really Mormons and Christians? They would say they’re the only true ones, we would say they have deeply corrupted the religions they claim to represent. It’s an oversimplification and wrong to tar every Muslim with the brush of extremists.

      • Arafat

        Um, talk about cherry-picking information to support your ridiculous position. You’ve done a fine job of doing exactly that.
        Why did you ignore my observation that Mohammed was a warrior and a megalomaniac? Jesus was not. Do you believe this to be unimportant? Or are you just ignoring information that does not support your viewpoint.
        Yes there are many violent passages in the Old Testament but they are specific to a time, place and people. In sharp contrast to this the Qur’an is open ended. Its calls for hatred and violence is against all non-Muslims and for all times.
        Furthermore Christianity has something called the Golden Rule. So when Christians, terrorize, murder, rape and torture others they are sinning. Why don’t you tell us about a Muslim equivalent to the Golden Rule.
        Your viewpoints are completely out of touch with the basic tenets of Christianity and Islam. Your opinions are based on false memes and your embrace of them is a danger to your own well being – something that is particularly ironic.

      • Ralphiec88

        Funny you should mention the Golden Rule. As it turns out, it appears in the sayings of Mohammed (the Hadith) also: “None of you has faith until he loves for his brother or his neighbor what he loves for himself.” I don’t claim to be a Koranic expert (and neither should you), but like the Bible, it’s a product of the time it was written, with both violent and peaceful themes. What I do know is that people can and have taken either book and used it for good or for hate. Your Muslim neighbors have chosen the former. You and the terrorists have chosen the latter.

      • Arafat

        “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who
        disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads
        and strike off every fingertip of them.”
        “Allah”(Quran 8:12)

        “Fight everyone in the way of Allah and
        kill those who disbelieve in Allah.”
        Muhammad (Ibn Ishaq 992)

        “Love your neighbor and pray for those who persecute you.”
        Jesus (Matthew 5:44)

        Even though many Muslims regard terrorists who kill in the name of Allah as criminals, they cannot deny that Muhammad also killed in the name of Allah. What example of Jesus do Christians emulate which has them confused with terrorists and criminals?

        Each year, thousands of Christian homes and churches are torched or bombed by Muslim mobs, andhundreds of Christians, including dozens of priests, pastors, nuns and other church workers are murdered at the hands of Islamic extremists. The so-called justification varies, from charges ofapostasy or evangelism, to purported “blasphemy” or ” insulting” Islam. Innocent people have even been hacked to death by devout Muslims over cartoons.

        Yet, there is little if any violent retaliation from religious Christians to the discrimination, kidnapping,rape, torture, mutilation and murder that is routinely reported from nations with Muslim majorities. Neither is there any significant deadly terrorism in the name of Jesus, as there is in the stated cause of Allah each and every day. Muslim clerics in the West do not fear for their safety as do their Christian counterparts.

        The “Christian world” and the Islamic world contrast sharply in other ways as well, from the disparate condition of human rights and civil liberties to economic status. An astonishing 70% of the world’s refugees are Muslims – usually seeking to live in Christian-based countries.

        While Western societies take seriously “scandals” such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo (where no one has actually been killed), Muslims routinely turn a blind eye to their own horrible atrocities, even those committed explicitly in the name of Allah. The Muslim world has yet to offer a single apology for the hundreds of millions who were consumed by centuries of relentless Jihad and slavery.

        These sharp differences are almost certainly rooted in the underlying religions, which begin with the disparate teachings and examples set by Jesus and Muhammad…

      • Arafat

        Whether true or not, everything that secular critics say they don’t like about Christianity, from women’s issues to slavery, is not only a tangible part of Islam, but usually magnified.

        While the Catholic church is demonized for not allowing female priests, the fundamentalists of Islam force women into burqas and blow up schools that educate girls. Even activists known for championing women’s rights in the Muslim world still rationalize keeping captured women as sex slaves, since it is explicitly permitted in the Quran. And, while Christians might object to extra-marital sex, only Islamic purists plant consenting adults in the ground and stone them to death.

        Theocracy (in the form of Sharia) really is the the explicit goal of Islamic teaching, whereas Christianity leaves room for the separation of religion and government (Mark 12:17, John 18:36). Terrorism reallyis an expression of devotion to Allah and not just criminal activity or warfare by disinterested parties with a nominal religious identification (ie. “born a Catholic”).

        If threatening people with eternal damnation is considered distasteful, then Christianity has far less to be ashamed of than Islam, which not only alludes to the terrible fate awaiting unbelievers in nearly every other chapter of the Quran, but includes vivid descriptions of torture at the hands of a psychopathic god.

        The two religions contrast sharply even in their positive aspects. The morality of the Quran is amateurish and frustratingly obscure for those trying to compare it with what is contained in the Bible. Most of Islam’s holiest book is devoted toward distinguishing and heaping abuse on unbelievers. There are no verses that promote universal love and brotherhood. The few verses that are sometimes held up as examples of tolerance and peace generally require separation from textual and historical context.

        The difference between Christianity and Islam starts at the top: Muslims are told that their prophet Muhammad – a slave-owner, sexual glutton, thief and killer – is the most “beautiful pattern of conduct”and “example” for mankind to follow (Quran 33:21), as well as the “exalted standard of character”(Quran 68:4).

        Christians are told to emulate Jesus – a pacifist and servant – and “walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). Unlike Muhammad, who ordered military assaults against Christians, for example, Jesus told his followers not to resort to violence and to pray for one’s enemies.

        These two men could hardly have been more different in how they lived or in what they taught others. Why should we not expect starkly contrasting legacies – from the conduct of their closest companions to the livability of modern-day countries influenced by the predominance of one founder’s teachings over the other?

        As Wafa Sultan (who describes herself as a Muslim who does not adhere to Islam) puts it: “The problem with Christians is they aren’t as good as Jesus. But thank God most Muslims are better than Muhammad.”

      • Arafat

        The Quran Teaches that All Life is Sacred

        The Game:Verse 5:2 promotes a universal principal that all life is sacred to Allah. It says “If any one slew a person… it would be as if he slew a whole people; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of a whole people…”

        The Truth:This fragment of verse 5:32 appears above as it was quoted by the Fiqh Council of North America. It is what apologists want non-Muslims to believe is in the Quran, as opposed to the dozens of other open-ended passages that command warfare, beheadings and torture. But even this quote from verse 5:32 isn’t quite how it appears. It leaves out a few words.

        Here’s the full text of the verse:

        “On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.”First, notice the gaping loophole. Killing is allowed in cases of murder or “for spreading mischief in the land.” Murder is pretty straightforward, but “spreading mischief?” If anything begged for a careful and precise explanation, a phrase authorizing torture certainly would. But generations of Muslims are left to apply their own interpretation of what “mischief” means – with varying standards. Violating Sharia (Islamic law) or sharing a different religious faith appears to qualify. Verse 7:103 of the Quran even indicates that merely rejecting Muhammad and the Quran counts as “mischief”.

        Secondly, note the broader context of this verse. It turns out that this isn’t a divine command to Muslims after all. It’s a recounting of a rule that was given to the Jews (lifted from the Talmud, in fact). It isn’t an admonition against killing. It’s an indictment against the Jews for violating the law given to them. “Any one” doesn’t mean “anyone,” but rather any one of the Jews.

        Any application to Muslims would have to apply only to Muslims – as in Muslim-on-Muslim murder within the brotherhood of believers. In fact, the context of the verse is the murder of Abel by Cain. Historically, this verse has never been interpreted by Islamic scholars to mean that Allah places equal value on the lives of non-Muslims. The Quran says that restitution for murder is bound by the law of equality (2:178) and that non-believers are not equal to Muslims (39:9). Muhammad affirmed that while a Muslim may be punished with death for killing a fellow Muslim, they should never be slain for killing a non-believer.

        Rather than encouraging tolerance, Sura 5 as a whole is actually an incitement of hatred with a hint of violence. Later in the chapter, Jews and Christians are explicitly cursed as ‘wicked’ people with ‘diseased hearts’ and as hateful ‘blasphemers’ respectively. Muhammad goes on to coyly remind his people that Allah loves those who “fight” in his service – and it’s fairly obvious who the enemy is.

        Muslim apologists also leave out the fact that the gruesome verse which follows 5:32 actuallymandates killing in the case of the aforementioned “mischief”. It even suggests crucifixion and“the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides.” (This injunction was dutifully followed by ISIS in 2014)

        Although verse 5:32 recounts the law given to Jews, the verse that follows is clearly intended for Muslims. Verse 5:33 provides the basis for blasphemy laws, in which people are executed for insulting or questioning Islam. Ironically then, the very part of the Quran that apologists use to portray Islam as a non-violent religion has long been used as justification for making verbal offense into a capital crime.

        So, the Quran’s best example of moral instruction is a passage which actually mandates the torture and execution of those deemed a threat to Islamic hegemony…

        With this being the best that Islam has to offer, it’s not hard to guess why the religion contributes over a thousand deadly terrorist attacks to the world each and every year.