Students stood together in front of the Student Centre on December 19 to mourn the victims of the Peshawar school massacre last month. Amnesty International, the UTM Muslim Students’ Association, the Pakistan Development Fund, the Pakistani Students’ Association, and the Pakistan Youth Alliance hosted a candlelight vigil on behalf of the victims.
About 90 students attended the vigil, circling around candles placed on the ground in the shape of the word “PEACE”.
Maleeha Baig, the president of Amnesty International, began the vigil outlining the events of December 16, when seven members of the Tekrik-e-Taliban Pakistan conducted a terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. In total, 145 people were killed, of whom 132 were schoolchildren between eight and 18 years old.
Baig condemned the attack on behalf of Amnesty International.
“The attack may have been against Pakistanis, but this vigil demonstrates that we stand in solidarity with them—we stand as one today and always. Our hearts bleed and our eyes cry for their loss as if it were our own,” she added.
U of T’s Muslim Chaplain, Amiad Tarsin, talked about religion and diversity, noting, “The actions of those people, who call themselves Muslims, contradict what Islam teaches us. Killing children and preventing them from going to school and learning is against what Islam came for in the world. The first word in the Qur’an was about knowledge; it was iqra’a, which means ‘read’.”
Third-year student Zineb Hamoudi also performed a spoken word piece on faith and optimism.
After a moment of silence with individual prayers for the deceased, students began to place their candles around the word “peace”.
As part of the vigil, donations were collected for the Edhi Foundation, a Pakistan-based non-profit program for emergency help. A total of $628 was collected to assist the victims and their families cover medical costs and funeral expenses.
The attack had no connection with the more recent shooting at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris.