“It is better to light one candle, than curse the darkness. And tonight we are lighting many candles.”
That is what Anna, the Amnesty International representative said tonight during the emotional candlelit vigil for Paris, held outside the Students’ Union. Despite the cold and looming deadlines, a swarm of students and faculty descended upon the concourse this evening to pay their respects for all those who suffered tragedy last week.
Not only were 129 people killed in Paris- alongside a staggering number of people injured- but attacks in Beirut meant 43 people died and over 200 were injured. In Baghdad, at least 18 died and over 40 were injured during a suicide bombing at the funeral of a pro-government Shia fighter. These devastating attacks that took place within a matter of days were all claimed by the militant group ISIS.
A 3 minute silence took place after speeches made by those obviously affected by the tragedies- as I’m sure we all were. A minute of silence each for Paris, Beirut and Baghdad was observed beautifully, although it was not hard to feel the emotion in the air. Each and every person there felt the pain of all those who suffered last week, and in unison, we stood silent in a tribute to their bravery and memory. Approximately 1000 candles were then lit, a physical representation of our sadness, hope and prayers, in the aftermath of such a brutal week.
However, the vigil did not focus on who carried out these attacks- and rightly so. No one spoke of hate or retaliation, but focused on how the world had come together, how so much love and hope for the future was being spread.
That students from many countries, and many different backgrounds, came together tonight in solidarity against the attacks that shook the world last week, shows that while this may be a dark time for many, humanity stands together in a refusal to allow the victims memories to be tainted by violence or hatred, but instead revered in love and peace.