Tears of Mourning and Hopes for Peace
"Our event today is a vigil to mourn the lives lost and to make a push to bring awareness that we need a cease-fire right now," said Yazun Issawi, a sophomore from Canton, Ohio, who is in Kent State's computer information systems program. Issawi is the vice president of student organization Kent State's Students for Justice in Palestine.
Students for Justice in Palestine held the candlelight vigil on Nov. 9. The group distributed candles to anyone who wanted to participate. Transfer sophomore Finch G'afurbekov is an environmental studies major from Kent. They are also vice president of the student organization Disabled Students Society. Thursday was the group's regular meeting night and some of its members decided to attend the vigil together.
"It's important to me personally because as an American, it feels like there's not much that we can do from where we are," said G'afurbekov. "We can send aid, but a lot of it doesn't reach Gaza, and so the most that we can do is show them support, and that support does reach them. They do see people supporting them, and so I want them to see that."
The vigil included the reading of about 100 of the names of the more than 10,000 men, women and many children who have perished in the conflict. One of the volunteers reading the names could not hold back her tears. There was also a moment of silence to honor the deceased and speeches from members of Students for Justice in Palestine.
Some of the more than 50 people assembled used red markers to write victims' names on their arms. Parents in Palestine do this with their children so that if they are killed, their bodies may be more easily identified in the aftermath of an attack.
Yaseen Shaikh is a senior computer science major from Cleveland, Ohio. He is the president of Students for Justice in Palestine. He said that there is fear within Muslim and Arab communities and that some people feel marginalized, even unsafe, as there has been a spike in hate crimes across the country.
"So part of our purpose here at this vigil is to help show them that they are safe here, that they are welcome, and that their lives matter too," he said.