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Vigil voices unity with Paris, Beirut

Photo by Jan Li | The Rice Thresher

Rice students assembled late Sunday by Willy’s statue in the Academic Quad to express solidarity with the inhabitants of Paris and Beirut. The vigil was organized by Rice’s Bonuik Council.

By Amber Tong     11/18/15 9:29am

In light of recent violence in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad, over 100 students attended a candlelight vigil to show solidarity, say prayers and express their thoughts. The gathering,hosted by the Boniuk Council, took place on the night of Nov. 15.

On Nov. 13, a series of gun and bomb attacks in the French capital killed 129 people, leaving over 300 injured. On the same day, a suicide bombing at a Baghdad funeral killed at least 17 people. In Beirut, one day before that, 41 lost their lives to two suicide bombs.

Boniuk Council outreach officer Zaid Bilgrami said the organizers hoped the vigil would be a space for attendees to reconcile traumatic global events for themselves.

“Praying helps me personally process tragedy in these kinds of events; it helps me heal,” Bilgrami, a Baker College senior, said. “So I’m just happy I got the opportunity to invite people and allow them to pray as well, and allow them to initiate their own healing as well. It’s just the least we can do.” 

Bridget Schilling, a Boniuk Council member, was one of many students who gave a speech at the vigil.

“We stand together tonight not as activists, but as people who value basic human life,“ Schilling, a Lovett College junior, said.

Anita Kapyur, another member of the Boniuk Council, said she is deeply touched by the different voices present.

“As terrible as tragedy is, this sort of times that we come together are just so beautiful —it just shows how much greater love is than hate,” Kapyur, a Duncan College junior, said. “It’s a privilege to be part of this, and be part of everyone’s healing and praying, even if we’re not all of the same religion.”

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