Students hold vigil following attack in Mogadishu

University of Toronto was lit up with candles on Friday night during a campus vigil organized to show solidarity with the Somali community following the recent terror attack, the worst in the country’s history.

The East African Students’ Association held a vigil with the collaboration of the Somali Students’ Association and the Muslim Students’ Association at St. George campus.

Students during a moment of silence to pay respect to those who lost their lives and those injured. Photo taken Oct. 20 (Photo by Zena Salem)

On Oct.14, a bombing in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, claimed the lives of 358 and injured over 500. The bombing was allegedly carried out by a veteran militant, who was also involved in a previous attack in Mogadishu in 2012 according to The Guardian.

During the vigil, Naima Adan, president at the Somali Students’ Association expressed sadness over the attack.

“We are all praying that whatever happened will never happen again,” she said. “Let it be known that our lives are valuable, our lives will not be forgotten and our lives will not be ignored.”

Samiya Abdi, a community advocate and co-founder of Aspire2Lead was in Mogadishu four days before the bombing.

She said the recent event has been devastating but still put a lot into perspective.

“Mogadishu has never seen a day of devastation like this, but … Somalia has never seen resilience like this, especially amongst the young people,” Abdi said.

Following the bombing, Abdi said Mogadishu hospitals were overwhelmed with people lining up to donate blood.

Abdi also touched on the symbolism behind the red bands, which were given out to attendees. Red bands were worn in Mogadishu a day after the attack.

“It symbolizes anger and rage, but it also symbolizes that the blood that was spilled on the streets of Mogadishu will not go unnoticed, even if the world doesn’t notice us,” she said.

Ryerson University’s Muslim Chaplain, Imam Yasin Dwyer, said students should use the vigil to work towards solutions for Somalia.

Students from U of T, Ryerson and Waterloo showing solidarity at the vigil on Oct. 20 (Photo by Zena Salem)

“This particular gathering is not just for grieving,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to understand why what’s going on in Somalia is going on and how we can actually put our mind and hearts together to find some creative ways to help contribute to a real and lasting solution to what they have suffered over the past few decades.”

Despite the gravity of the attack, Yasin Dwyer expressed how exemplary the Somali people have been.

“The most salient characteristic of the Somali people – in light of all that is gone on over the past few decades – is survival. The Somali people are people that represent survival and this is actually an example for all of us.”

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