Monday night, more than 70 students attended a vigil held by Michigan Pakistanis after a suicide bombing Sunday in Lahore, Pakistan, left at least 72 civilians killed and more than 300 injured.
The vigil attendees included students affiliated with Michigan Pakistanis as well as other University of Michigan students. LSA junior Shahrooz Ali, who was not a Michigan Pakistanis member, noted the event was an opportunity for students to come together to mourn in solidarity.
“What happened on Sunday was an unnecessary act that left those innocent lives murdered,” Ali said. “Those people were just at the park, celebrating a day of God with their families. As a Muslim, I do not understand the reason why the bombers felt it necessary to commit this crime. Islam preaches a message of peace, for all people to come together, and love each other.”
During the vigil, student members of Michigan Pakistanis spoke about the impact of the suicide bombing. President of Michigan Pakistanis Eman Hijab, an LSA junior, told the crowd it was important to not be desensitized to senseless acts of violence like Sunday’s bombing.
“At a time when hope has diminished, faith in humanity weakened and overwhelming grief pervades, we stand in unity with one another.” Hijab said. “We must remind ourselves to never become complacent with acts of terrorism and not allow ourselves to become desensitized to happenings in Pakistan or around the world.”
For many in attendance, the vigil also offered an opportunity for students to share their connections to Lahore.
Hijab said her family are natives to Lahore, and that some of her fondest memories were from the trips that she took to see her grandparents who are still there. She expressed concern that Sunday’s attack, which was specifically on a group of Christian residents celebrating Easter, could lead to an increase in targeting religious minorities in the country. The motivation of the attack has not been confirmed
“Sunday’s tragedy really hit close to home for me because all of my family is in Lahore,” Hijab said. “Going through the agony of not knowing whether my family was OK or not was absolutely terrorizing, and to think that so many citizens of Pakistan go through this on a daily basis is very disheartening.
The targeting of religious minorities in Pakistan was addressed candidly by several of the other speakers at the vigil. LSA sophomore Babu Zia spoke about his experiences as a Lahore resident, saying he has seen significant changes in Pakistan from when he was younger to the summer he spent in the city as an intern last year.
“Ten years ago, when I moved to Lahore with my family, it was completely different,” Zia said. “When I returned last year, it was a very different place. The democracy in Pakistan that we cherish gives equal rights to Christians, to people of all religions, but what these terrorists are doing is trying to break the country. And what we are seeing now in Pakistan is that the once united country is broken.”
Hijab said she thought overall, the vigil played an important role on campus because it brought people of all faiths and ethnicities together to talk openly about religious pluralism and tolerance.
“It is important that at times like this we all come together to talk and work to create a more positive campus environment for all students,” Hijab said.