The Muslim Student Association at the University of Utah hosted a Friday Prayer for Christchurch in the Union Ballroom. Following the tragic events in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, the Muslim community has been affected across the globe. In order to stand in solidarity with the victims of the Christchurch shooting and their families and friends, many attended the event from both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities of Salt Lake.
Abby Broadbent, a second-year undergraduate student, was one of many non-Muslims who attended to show support. When asked why she chose to take the time to come to the event, she said, “I think it’s really important to show solidarity. There’s not a lot of ways to show it because we live in Utah and [Islam is] not a majority religion.”
Charles Turner, a PhD student studying political science and the president of the Muslim Student Association, shared a sermon about the events in Christchurch and what we can do to progress after a tragedy like the one that occurred last week. He spoke a lot about strength and faith and said, “Strength comes not from physical prowess, but from spiritual fortitude.”
He first talked about the location of the attack and said, “In all the places in the world where this tragedy might have happened, it occurred in a country that immediately smothered the Muslim community in love.” New Zealand government and the general public have already taken action in support of the Muslim community.
Turner continued his sermon by mentioning Farid Ahmed, whose wife was killed in the attack. Ahmed forgave the shooter and Turner advised those in attendance to learn from Ahmed’s example and his ability to forgive. He remarked, “For us who have not experienced this firsthand, it may seem too easy to say that you’ve forgiven someone. But think of how easy it would be to be angry.” He advised kindness in the face of tragedy.
Turner voiced that we have a responsibility to stand up to discrimination and bigotry when we see it because it is prevalent in our country as “a movement.” He hopes that God will “remove hatred and bigotry and prejudice to cleanse our nation, after all of its history to cleanse it, finally, of this hatred that has infected it for so long.”
He mentioned a few methods that we can use to remove that hatred. One of those ways is “by standing with others who would suffer from the tyranny of this disease.” He continued, “Unfortunately, I hope this will be the last memorial, the last prayer, the last vigil that we go to. We will probably go to more. To Jewish cemeteries being desecrated. To churches being shot up. It is upon us to show up for those communities just as they have come for ours in the hundreds and in the thousands.”
He talked about the Muslim community in Salt Lake and advised them to be courageous in the face of hatred. He said, “No matter how many good lives are lost — and there will be more lost — remember, take solace. Take comfort in the fact that we stand in the daylight. We do not cower in fear.”
The Muslim community in Salt Lake did act with courage in the wake of the tragic attack. Turner remarked, “Last Friday, when we woke up in the morning and heard that 51 of our brothers and sisters, children and elderly people had been killed, we didn’t stay home. Our mosques were more full on last Friday than they had been in quite a while. That’s something to take pride about. That’s bravery. That’s courage.”
We can all learn from the actions of the Muslim community and learn to stand with courage with other communities in the face of prejudice and bigotry aimed at them. The event concluded with a short prayer, after which the attendees greeted each other to show gratitude for the support.