In the wake of the days-old terrorist bombings in France and Lebanon, about 250 Lehigh students gathered in front of the University Center lawn Tuesday night in a show of solidarity for the victims of the attacks.
The 45-minute candlelit vigil, which began at 7 p.m., was organized by the Global Union and Student Senate after an outpouring from students who wanted to honor those killed in terrorist attacks not only in Paris and Beirut but around the world.
“It is the world and all of humanity that has been attacked,” said the Rev. Lloyd Steffen, university chaplain and director of the Lehigh Center for Dialogue, Ethics and Spirituality. “It is the world that by our dedication to justice and peace, we must resolve to save from the worst that is within us.”
Steffen, in recognizing the horror and dismay that people felt over the killings, said that those who gathered by candlelight would “illuminate the hope” for a just and peaceful world.
“We ask blessing and wholeness, healing and protection for all harmed by the violence of recent days and weeks and months,” said Steffen, “and ask, in the spirit of prayer, that peace will come to us, not from outside or from on high, but from within our hearts and by our stretch of generous care—one human family member to another.”
Also addressing the crowd was Zakaria Hsain, president of the Muslim Student Association. He said the terrorists don’t represent Islam or its values of peace, justice and brotherhood exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad.
While paying tribute to the victims in Paris and Beirut, he said he also wanted to stand in solidarity with the “forgotten victims”—those in Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, Palestinians and “countless others” affected by war, persecution and injustice.
Invited to speak at the podium, several students stepped from the crowd to express their feelings over the recent terrorist attacks. One sang the French national anthem. Someone from Lebanon asked everyone to pray for humanity. Another speaker reminded those gathered that the French people and their love of liberty had inspired America’s founders.“From the birth of our nation, they are very close to us,” he said.
Among those who joined the students were staff and administration, including President John D. Simon, Provost Pat Farrell and Henry Odi, vice provost for academic diversity.
After about a dozen people spoke, those attending the vigil walked in silence by candlelight around the university lawn.