Last November, I wrote a brief message to the Marquette community expressing my personal solidarity with the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In that letter, I noted how we continue to witness acts of Antisemitism and racism, particularly those directed at places of worship. I also recounted the words of an administrator at the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown, Kentucky, who was quoted as saying, “When one feels pain, we all feel pain.”
Last week, I was visiting our program in Cape Town, South Africa with a group of Marquette faculty. As I prepared to travel home, I learned that our lives were once again disrupted. This time the victims had assembled at the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch. It was, and still is, hard to grasp—the chronology, the live stream on social media, the panic, the scramble to understand and make sense of it all.
Among the victims was the goalkeeper from New Zealand’s national futsal team, a father and son, a man who sought asylum after fleeing Afghanistan 40 years ago and a Syrian refugee. I am reminded of the words of Stuart Taylor, a minister from Tucson, Arizona, who once told me, “It is in our nature as human beings to migrate.” Yet there are those who will act on their hatred and commit an act of egregious violence against Muslims who migrated to Christchurch and gathered in peace for prayer.
Pope Francis expressed his condolences through Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, writing, “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence at two Mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks.” On Sunday he would pray, “I am close to our Muslim brothers.”
For those of us who are practicing Christians, we must allow for the disruption in our Lenten season. As I said in my letter last November, as busy as we are, I urge us as a community not to let this moment go by without beginning a dialogue on how to combat hate. Regardless of faith tradition or belief, it is incumbent upon us to stand again in solidarity—this time with our Muslim sisters and brothers who have experienced pain from the shootings in Christchurch. We stand in solidarity against hate and its rhetoric, and at the extreme, the violence that disrupts our society.
Vice President for Inclusive Excellence
The Muslim Student Association will host a prayer service tonight in honor of the 50 innocent lives that were killed in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019.
The prayer vigil will be held tonight, March 18, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the AMU, second floor lobby.