(Sterling, VA – Feb 13, 2015) – On Friday evening February 13, some 900 people of many Faiths came to ADAMS Main Center to attend a vigil in remembrance of the three Chapel Hill students whose lives were tragically ended when they were brutally attacked and murdered by a neighbor from their apartment complex. The three fallen heroes – Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19 – were promising students who each had already made a very significant impact on their community, and were each noted for their many efforts to help those less fortunate; they had recently been involved in helping refugees from the crisis in Syria by providing much needed dental care in the camps which are located in Turkey.
ADAMS staff and volunteers had erected a Memorial Wall and Table with photos of the fallen heroes and flowers to honor them, and had created black ribbons emblazoned with the words, “All Lives Matter” to be given to each attendee. There were also many signs reading “End Hate Speech” and “End Hate Crimes” throughout the crowd.
ADAMS Statement – https://www.adamscenter.org/?p=2144
Interfaith Leaders, Elected Representatives, Government Officials from the Justice Department and the FBI, and local Law Enforcement Officials, joined Community Members and many friends from various faiths came together in support of the three students and their families in that event.
For almost 2 &1/2 hours a steady stream of speakers extended their deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims, and noted their solidarity with the families of the victims. Speakers included VA Delegates Keam, Murphy and Rasoul, Supervisors Foust (Fairfax), Vice Chair Williams and Reid (Loudoun), Herndon Councilor Singh, reps from Senator Kaine and Congresswoman Comstock’s offices, and leaders of many faith groups form this entire region.
ADAMS Executive Religious Director Imam Mohamed Magid opened the Vigil with a prayer and recitation from the Holy Quran, and then spoke of the need to honor and remember the good deeds of the three victims, and their obvious commitment to their wider community in North Carolina and beyond. As he noted, “We must reflect on this tragic event to start action to stand up to those who would demonize and attack any minority groups, and ensure that America remains a place for people of all faiths and backgrounds to come together in the spirit of harmony and inclusiveness that has made it a model for the rest of the world.”
Every speaker re-affirmed the deep and continued commitment of all Americans for peace and for freedom from fear, as well as for religious and racial harmony. ADAMS Chairman, Rizwan Jaka, read a statement from President Barack Obama that “No one should be a target because of their appearance or how they worship”, a sentiment echoed not only by every speaker but by further written statements sent by Governor McAuliffe, Attorney General Herring, Congressman Connolly, VA Senator Favola and Delegates Rust and LeMunyon among others. .
ADAMS also deeply appreciates the FBI for launching a parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether or not any federal laws were violated related to the case.
Emerge USA announced that it has started a national online petition to encourage elected officials to raise awareness and stand up against behaviors that threaten freedom and safety in America. This can be accessed by the general public for signatures at http://emergeusa.nationbuilder.com/.
The full list of speakers and letters at the vigil included:
1) EMCEE – Rizwan Jaka, Chair, Board, ADAMS
2) Syed Moktadir, President, ADAMS
3) Imam Mohamed Magid, Executive Religious Director, ADAMS
4) Hidayah Martinez Jaka, Scout and Youth, ADAMS
5) Azraf Ullah, Eagle Scout and Youth, ADAMS
6) Dr Hadia Mubarak , Past President, Muslim Students Association National
7) Abed Ayoub, Executive Director, United Muslim Relief
8) Reverend Joan Bell Hayes, United Christian Parish
9) Ray Daffner, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation Synagogue
10) Gurpreet Singh, Sikh Community
11) Head Abbott Udom Semana, Yarnna Rangee Buddhist temple, Sterling
12) Charles Stevenson – Christian Interfaith activities
13) Catherine Orsborn – Shoulder To Shoulder Interfaith Coalition
14) Eric Treene, US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
15) Mike McGarrity, FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Special Agent in Charge
16) Lt Chris Hines, Eastern Loudoun Sheriff Station Deputy Commander
17) Bob Marro, ADAMS Board Member
18) Virginia State Delegate Mark Keam
19) Virginia State Delegate Kathleen Murphy
20) Virginia State Delegate Sam Rasoul
21) Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust
22) Loudoun County Vice Chair and Supervisor Shawn Williams
23) Loudoun Supervisor Ken Reid
24) Herndon Town Council Member Jasbinder Singh
25) Keren Dongo from Senator Tim Kaine’s staff
26) David Stegmaier, from Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’ staff
27) Statement from President Barack Obama
28) Statements from Gov Terry McAuliffe, AG General Mark Herring, Congressman Gerry Connolly, Delegates Jim LeMunyon and Tom Rust, VA Senate Candidate Atif Qarni