“We don’t let terrorists change our way of life”
MSU Museum honors Muslims killed in New Zealand terror attacks
Mourners gathered Friday at the MSU Museum to remember those killed in the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Senior nursing student Aini Ibrahim was in attendance at the memorial.
“I never know where to start. I thank the Museum for doing this. It shows that, in light of such a very, very tragic event, that we still can come together in peace and harmony. I just wish that more people had this,” she said. “I’m just praying for a world with peace and tolerance and understanding, that we can live together with our differences.”
The attack killed 49 Muslim New Zealanders during Friday prayers at two Christchurch mosques.
When he saw the news early that morning, MSU Museum director Mark Auslander said he quickly coordinated with the MSU Muslim Studies program to create a memorial and had a small ceremony that afternoon.
“Museums often are places of healing,” Auslander said. “That’s partly because we have so much of the shared cultural heritage of humankind. In terrible moments, sometimes we look to those objects to give us some solace.”
The objects he referred to are ornate prayer rugs displayed in the museum lobby, with a placard next to them inviting visitors to “reflect in solidarity with all Muslims and persons of faith throughout the world.”
“It just seems so important right now, given the tragedies of the world, that the museum and the university be a place where people can all come together from many different backgrounds and faiths to stand in solidarity,” Auslander said.
On the ground in the center of the space, cordoned off with white ribbon, were the empty prayer rugs.
“We see three prayer rugs. The attack took place in a mosque, which is supposed to be a place of tranquility and worship," Muslim Studies director Mohammad Khalil said. "It’s fitting that they would select prayer rugs as a symbol."
Khalil said the memorial was Auslander’s idea and that he was moved by the gesture. The event was well attended.
“It’s really nice to see people here. It’s a difficult time, but when you see people here, coming together ... it’s reassuring,” he said.
Khalil also had a message for Muslim students in wake of the attack: “Be vigilant, more vigilant than usual. But also, be strong,” he said. “We don’t let terrorists intimidate us or change our way of life.”