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Vigil held for New Zealand victims

My Project USA founder and exceutive director Zerqa Abid speaks to those in attendance for the vigil at the Ohio Statehouse. Credit: Cori Wade | Lantern Photographer

Two Ohio State clubs hosted a vigil Sunday with nine other local organizations in memory of the 50 people shot and killed in a mosque during a terrorist attack in New Zealand on Friday.

The vigil took place in front of the Ohio Statehouse and featured speakers from the two student organizations — the Arab Student Union and Muslim Student Association — as well as speakers from groups like MY Project USA — a nonprofit comprised of Muslim youth, parents & community members whose mission is to protect, nurture & empower our youth & USA

Zerqa Abid, founder and executive director of MY Project USA, was one of the main coordinators and speakers at the event. She touched on the importance of all people coming together in the wake of crisis no matter their race, ethnicity or religion.

“When we get to together in instances like these, and we grieve together, it helps,” Abid said. “We wanted to make sure that as many gatherings like these happen, people can hug each other and talk to each other.”

Fifty individuals were killed in New Zealand on Friday when a gunman entered two Mosques in the city of Christchurch and opened fire. The gunman was an avowed racist who cited racial motivations in a manifesto posted online prior to the attack.

Around 200 people attended the vigil to show support and listen to some of the speakers who recited the names of victims whose stories resonated with theirs.

Wesam Jallaq, a fourth-year in political science and president of the Arab Student Union at Ohio State, spoke at the event and said it was important to support the victims as well as rally against this attack and messages of hate.

“When I was reading through the stories of the victims, I saw a lot of them who were Arab, and that really touched me because it felt like it happened to people I knew,” Jallaq said. “I am Muslim as well and it felt like it happened to my own community.”

Rick Neal, the democratic candidate in November for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District in the U.S. House, spoke at the event and said freedom to worship is an ideal Americans are acutely aligned with.

“I think that there are a few things that are more American than the idea that people should be able to get together in places of worship and freedom, and I think a lot of people are here today because they recognize that,” Neal said. “Whether American born, foreign born, we have got to come together, and stand with each other, especially when really tragic things like this happen.”


  1. Mahmoud El-Youssseph

    Thanks OSU Lantern and Regie Thomas for such thorough and insightful article!


    If the attacker was Muslim and the victims were white, the Christchurch coverage would have been very different

    After the terrorist attack at the two mosques in New Zealand, some Muslims have wondered what would have been the reaction if the Christchurch shooter was a Muslim and the victims were Christians or Jews? Here is a summary of what I think the reaction would be.

    The story would be 24/7 news for days to come. Islam and Muslims would be put on trial. Trump will be tweeting to his 60m followers, “I told you so, Islam hates us!”

    We would know what mosque the shooter attended, the charity he gave to, and his favourite vacation spot. The “imam” of the mosque would be blamed for radicalizing the shooter. US officials will be quick to condemn Muslims as bloodthirsty savages.

    It would be the lead story on every TV station and a front page story in every newspaper. TV stations would interject in regularly scheduled programs for constant updates and analyses. Major TV networks will dispatch their top-notch hosts to broadcast from New Zealand.

    The topic would be on every radio talk show for listeners to vent their frustration. We will see more people use the slogan “Je Suis Christchurch” or “Je Suis New Zealand”.

    Facebook users around the world would pay tribute to the victims by changing their profile pictures. Last but not least, Muslim communities would be asked the most naive question: do they condone or condemn this terrorist attack?

  2. Mahmoud El-Youssseph

    Everybody Loves Egg Boy

    Mahmoud El-Yousseph
    March 21, 2019

    Everybody loves Egg Boy. His real name is Will Connolly and he is the brave 17-year-old Australian teenager who cracked an egg on the back of the head of Senator Frazer Anning in Melbourne. This happened the day after the twin-mosque attacks when the Senator made a statement calling Islam a savage religion and blamed the Muslim immigrants for New Zealand’s terrorist attacks. For this, he was dubbed ‘Egg Boy’ and has since become a star and media sensation.

    Egg Boy was slapped twice on the face by the Senator and then the politician’s supporters’ put Will in a headlock. He was arrested briefly by the police and was released shortly after without being charged. If that was not courage, then nothing is!

    The video of the incident went viral and Will became a household name in Australia and all over the world for his courage to stand up against a racist politician. Since then, Egg Boy got free concert tickets for life from the famous Hail Hope Hood, a New Zealand musical band, and a Turkish philosophy professor offered him a ticket along with accommodation in a 5-star hotel. His fans set up a Go Fund Me page which received $60,000 in the first few days.

    What is most impressive about Egg Boy was not only his courage but also his eloquence in expressing the reasons behind his action for standing up to a rightwing extreme senator. William wrote on his Twitter account, “Let me tell you all, Muslims are not terrorists. Terrorism has no religion and those who consider Muslims as terrorists have ’empty brains’ like Senator Anning.”

    Egg Boy has won my heart and the hearts of many Australians who called him a legend and labeled him “the hero we deserve” and some members of the public have nominated him for Australian of the Year. He will donate ALL the money raised from the GoFundMe page to support victims of the tragedy in Christchurch and he will not file charges against either the Senator or his supporters. That is another reason why everybody loves Egg Boy.

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