EDITORIAL: It is not always all about politics
Vigil for victims of attacks in Syria sends positive message
If you have even the slightest, most minute idea of what is happening in the world around you, you must know of the devastatingly tragic events that are taking place in Syria. And the worst part is that some people are becoming so accustomed to seeing videos of the demise of citizens in Syria — men, women and children alike. Passing a moment of sympathy is all that is felt before scrolling on to something else. But this is not the case with everyone.
On Monday, more than 50 people of the Rutgers community convened to take part in a vigil to show their support for the loss of Syrian lives in the latest attacks in the ongoing civil war.
Almost a week ago, on April 4, Syrian citizens faced what is being called one of the worst chemical bombings of its history. The rebel area, which is located in the northern part of the country, was filled with toxins as banned chemicals overtook the air and left children to die. The severe effects of the illegal chemicals even left children to choke and foam at the mouth before their deaths. These chemicals were dropped as bombs by warplanes, which also killed rescue workers attempting to tend to those injured. The attacks are being blamed on the Syrian military, as they are the only ones who are said to have not only the ability to conduce such an attack, but also the motive.
Russian government officials, who stand in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, argued that it was highly possible that the warplanes had struck places where these chemical substances were kept, causing them to spread.
But this was not the point of the vigil that was held at Rutgers. Instead of playing the blame game and trying to find a direction to point a finger in, the vigil held at the University focused on the lives lost rather than who caused them to be lost.
The vigil had no counter-protests, no comments on President Donald J. Trump’s decision to launch missiles into an airfield in Syria, no accusations.
Instead, the vigil was a gathering of people who came together to show their support for Syria and condolences for the lives they continue to lose. It focused on the remembrance of the people who died rather than fighting over who killed them. The vigil featured eight speakers from Syrian backgrounds who were able to express the grievances they felt living in the United States while constantly being updated on the horrific occurrences of their home countries.
Possibly the most moving aspect of the vigil was when Kaiser Aslam, the University’s first full-time Muslim chaplain hired in August of 2016, spoke to the crowd of the purpose of the vigil. He said that its main goal was to demonstrate that the hearts of those of the Rutgers community were not hardened enough to not care when human lives were lost.
Aslam is right. The fact that we are in New Brunswick, New Jersey should not keep us from caring about the tragedies occurring in the rest of the world, especially when we have so many peers who are affected by the injustices in Syria. With a large Muslim and even Middle Eastern population, Rutgers cannot deny that events in Syria are of concern to its community. And gatherings such as this vigil are what Rutgers needs to continue to have in order to show support for this population. Sometimes putting aside the politics of the situation and focusing on merely the humanity aspect of it is more effective in spreading a message, and although it is our hope that these tragedies cease, we hope that Rutgers can show its solidarity with its different populations in this same way if they ever continue.