Northwestern students hold vigil to honor victims of Peshawar school massacre


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Tahera Ahmad, associate chaplain and director of interfaith engagement, speaks during the vigil held in honor of victims of the Taliban attack in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Mariana Alfaro, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern students gathered at Parkes Hall on Tuesday night to hold a vigil in honor of the schoolchildren, administrators and soldiers murdered in a December terrorist attack on a Pakistani school.

About 40 students attended the vigil, which was hosted by the Muslim-cultural Student Association, the South Asian Student Alliance and Students for Justice in Palestine. The service honored the victims with a reciting of verses taken from the second chapter of the Quran and a moment of silence.

On Dec. 16, 2014, members of the Pakistani Taliban entered the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan, and opened fire, killing over 140 people, including more than 130 children. The massacre was the deadliest attack by the group in Pakistan.

Tahera Ahmad, NU’s associate chaplain and director of interfaith engagement, spoke during the ceremony Tuesday and explained the choice of verses for the service.

“We decided to use the verses (of the Quran) commonly recited by the families of victims after the attacks,” she said. “When the families were asked to say anything (after the tragedy), the popular responses that they gave were these verses from the Quran.”

The verses were first recited and then translated by NU students.

“The first verse that was recited recognizes that we come from God and return to him,” Ahmad said. “To hear the tears of a mother and to see her in that state and then she is recognizing that her child came from the Divine and returned to the Divine is a very powerful experience.”

Weinberg sophomore Nora Jandali, who attended the vigil, said such services are important to make the NU community aware of an international tragedy.

“Just keeping Northwestern informed is really important because a lot of people may not even know about this tragedy that happened in Peshawar,” she said. “People who weren’t aware of this situation will look more into it and the politics of it all and gain knowledge from the whole experience.”

Pakistani schools, including the Army Public School, reopened Monday after an extended break following the massacre.

In her closing remarks during the vigil, Ahmad said the attack’s victims live on through their families, who continue to recite those verses from the Quran.

“The verses continue to say that … these people who passed away, they are still alive. They may seem dead, but they’re still alive,” Ahmad said.

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