‘Don’t Look at the Evil’ — UCR Community Remembers All Victims of Terrorism

Students silently held up the flags of France, Kenya, Nigeria, Syria, Lebanon and Nigeria

A candlelight vigil at UC Riverside remembers the victims of terrorism all over the world. Jeanette Marantos

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — More than 60 students, faculty and staff gathered under the flagpole at UC Riverside Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil in honor of terrorism victims around the world.

The message was simple — we can overcome terrorism if we stand together.

“Terrorism doesn’t just affect a specific region, but all of humanity,” said student Natalie Haddad, a representative of UCR’s Middle Eastern Student Center. “Don’t look at the evil. Look at all those who help, because you will see many more people.”

Kevin Giser, director of UCR’s Hillel center for Jewish Student Life, said members of his group were at a retreat in Big Bear when news of the terrorist attacks in Paris began filtering in on Nov. 13. The group held its own small vigil at the retreat, he said, but members decided they also wanted to organize something on campus. They posted the idea on the Hillel Facebook page and heard from members of the Middle Eastern Student Center, who had been thinking along the same lines.

“We don’t really feel comfortable with people continuing the Islamophobic rhetoric,” said Giser said. “We’re tired of hearing about our Muslim, Persian, Arabic, Middle Eastern friends in general being told that their religion or the way they look is harmful in some way, because it’s really not.”

English professor Traise Yamamoto reiterated that point in her brief comments,  asking people to speak out when they hear others equate Islam with terrorism. Terrorism has no religion, she said, as she recalled how her Japanese-American family felt shunned during World War II.

“If you hear someone (speak against Muslims), stand up and say something,” she said. “I’m not saying make a speech; just stand up and say, ‘I’m not OK with that.’ My family appreciated those acts of kindness after Pearl Harbor and I hope we can all show that kind of kindness (toward Muslims) and step up when we need to.”

Both Haddad and Giser also noted that terrorists are attacking people around the world, not just in Paris.

As Haddad spoke, other students silently held up the flags of France, Kenya, Nigeria, Syria, Lebanon and Nigeria, where scores of people have been killed in recent terrorist attacks:

The hour-long event also included comments from UCR administrators Jim Sandoval, vice chancellor for student affairs, and Kelechi Kalu, vice provost of international affairs.

Both Kalu and Sandoval congratulated the group on their message of unity in the face of violence and hatred.

“Terrorists are very crafty people; they try to deny hope for the future,” said Kalu, a native of Nigeria. “But the future belongs to students like you. Whether the violence is happening in France, Nigeria, the Middle East or the UK, we are all together. Because of our knowledge and education, our future is well served by us working together.”

Vice Chancellor Jim Sandoval speaks at the vigil. Jeanette Marantos

Vice Chancellor Jim Sandoval speaks at the vigil.
Jeanette Marantos

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