Standing on the edge of Brandeis University’s Peace Circle, senior Beth Bowman urged the 100-plus students and faculty gathered in support of the campus’ Muslim community to look around and take in the feeling of unity.
In the wake of vandalism and the theft of Imam Talal Eid’s Quran at the Muslim Student Association’s newly renovated suite and prayer space on March 5, students held a peaceful vigil outside of the Usdan Student Center Friday afternoon, some even ditching class to attend.
Some wore white headscarves, some white yarmulkes, and many threw white T-shirts over sweaters, symbolizing peace, in a show of solidarity.
Student Sahar Massachi, the founder and editor of InnermostParts.org, the unofficial school blog, presented Eid with a petition he called “a love letter,” signed by more than 400 Brandeis students and professors.
Eid smiled as student after student handed him a page of the petition, each full of signatures.
Students of different faiths condemned the vandalism, and expressed support for their Muslim peers.
“Look around. This is so moving to me,” said Bowman, who is also on the Muslim Student Association’s executive board.
“The events that happened on March 5 are not the spirit of Brandeis – it’s the spirit right here,” she said, the group clapping.
I’m sitting in the library right now, reading the article over and over and smiling like a fool. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer, more positive story on the vigil; we really put Brandeis’s best foot forward on Friday. More importantly, we showed ourselves, hopefully our Muslim brothers and sisters especially, that this entire community felt the pain and fear of the MSA vandalism and that an attack on any of us is an attack on all of us. We stood together in a way that people recognized.
The vandals must be absolutely furious right now. They tried to attack a very specific group on campus, but instead they allowed us to prove publicly that we are united on a fundamental level, regardless of religious differences. However, this can be their gain as well, because in the wise words of Imam Talal Eid, “This person was probably a member of the Brandeis family, and we will not give up a member of the Brandeis family.” It’s a great feeling to know that you have an entire community willing to stand behind you when you need it the most, and provided you choose to act in accord with this community’s values, you (or anyone) can take comfort in that knowledge as well.