About 20 students gathered on the Diag Thursday evening to participate in a candlelight vigil for the victims of a terrorist attack on Turkey’s Istanbul Atatürk Airport this past week.
The attack occurred Tuesday, when three men opened fire in the airport — armed with guns and explosives — and dentonated their devices, killing a total of 44 people. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the assault, but the three have been linked to ISIS.
The vigil was organized by the Muslim Student Association, which invited the Turkish Student Association to also participate. Many at the event wore red and white, the colors of Turkey’s national flag, to demonstrate solidarity with the victims and their families.
LSA senior Farhan Ali, a member of the MSA who led the event, said events like these are important because they show how victims and their families are not alone.
“It’s important to commemorate the lives of those who were lost through the hands of injustice,” Ali said. “Doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish, Christian, Muslim; I think it’s important to always say your prayers.”
The vigil began silently at about 8:30 p.m. Ali and Rackham student Ziah Dean led the group in prayer for the victims and offered their reactions to the attack.
Dean, a member of the Muslim Graduate Students Association, said he wanted to show through the vigil that there is still some good left in the world even though tragedies like the Istanbul airport attack happen often.
“There’s so much going on (in the world) that it’s hard to come together for every single instance in which (attacks) happen,” Dean said. “But the more often we come together (and) reflect the better, because it really brings us to our humanity of feeling each other’s pain even though they may be far away. For us to come together here and reflect on it is important just to remind us of the good that we have and just being thankful for what we have.”
LSA senior Ibtihal Makki, also a member of the MSA, echoed Dean’s sentiments of humanity and compassion.
“I like to come to events like these whenever I can,” she said. “I’m not Turkish or of Turkish descent, but I think it’s important to show solidarity with other people regardless of whether you identify with them.”
Rackham alum Selin Nurgun, who has family in Turkey, said vigils like these give people the hope that lets them move on.
“I think it’s important to realize that you’re not alone because sometimes you can be hunkered down by fear and sadness, and you can get it inside your head and think that the world is an awful place,” she said. “But when you step out of that and come and see support and see friendly faces of all different shades of the world, it’s comforting.”