To commemorate the lives of those lost in a recent string of terrorist attacks in Beirut, Baghdad and Paris last week, a candlelight vigil was hosted by students at the UCI Flagpoles Thursday night.
A total of approximately 150 students, faculty and members of the Irvine community congregated to recognize the victims whose lives were lost last week at the UCI Candlelight Vigil for Victims of the Daesh Terrorist Attacks. With candles in hand, attendees partook in a moment of silence as a show of solidarity for the deceased.
The event was sponsored by the UCI School of Humanities, UCI European Languages and Studies Department and the UCI Office of Civic and Community Engagement.
Parshan Khosravi, ASUCI President and co-organizer of the vigil, said that the vigil was intended as a space for students to grieve and provide support for peers who were affected by the tragedies.
“I think we needed the vigil to create a space for us all to come together and show each other that we will not let this tragedy define us as a community, that we will support each other no matter what, and that in this world, in our world, there is no room for hate and violence, which is exactly what we were able to show in our intimate space at the vigil,” said Khosravi.
In his speech at the vigil, Rameen Talesh, the Dean of Students and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life and Leadership, spoke about the challenge of creating peace in the world.
“How do we promote peace? How do we promote love?” Talesh asked students at the vigil. “We can promote peace and love in our daily actions. We can do this. The way we treat people with dignity and respect, and the way we fight ignorance with intelligence—we can all do this.”
The death toll from Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad amounted to over 150, while hundreds more are estimated to be injured. Vice Chancellor Parham notes that it was important for the campus to acknowledge the victims of each attack, and promote global solidarity in the wake of widespread tragedy.
“I want us to remember that as you offer up a prayer, a thought of hope or something, that we gather as an Anteater nation committed to not allowing any incident in this world to divide us. The strength of our community is its diversity,” Parham said, addressing UCI students and faculty. “We are all members of the human family.”
The night ended with an open-mic segment where those in attendance were invited to come forth and share how they have personally been affected by these events.
Dina Moinzadeh, a Paris native and lecturer in UCI’s French department, explained her personal trauma after hearing that the attacks had hit her hometown.
“I called my friends back home to make sure they were safe after the attacks, and they were on the phone crying, because these are areas where they grew up,” said Moinzadeh. “One of [my friends] was in the concert hall only the week before it was attacked, and he has watched videos of the killings, and he’s been having nightmares since then…this has been a traumatic week for Paris, but I am glad that we can come together and acknowledge that there is more unity in the world than division and hatred.”
To conclude the event, students gathered their candles in front of the flagpoles, creating a peace sign in rememberance of the vigil’s purpose: to grieve for those affected by the tragedy and stand steadfastly devoted to peace.