Cupping candles against the wind, students gathered at a vigil coordinated by Yale Hillel, the Muslim Students’ Association and the Yale Undergraduates Friends of Turkey at 9 p.m. Monday to commemorate the lives lost in terrorist attacks in Istanbul on Saturday.
Hillel member Michael Marco ’06, who helped organized the vigil, said he hoped it was seen as “a stand against violence and terrorism.”
“The attacks in Istanbul tried to extinguish hope for peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence,” Marco said. “But tonight, the Yale Jewish and Muslim communities came together to affirm that hope.”
Bozkurt emphasized the scale of the tragedy.
“This event resulted in the death of six Jewish and 18 Muslim people,” Bozkurt said. “This has been the worst terrorist attack [in Turkey] in a long time.”
Students at the vigil gathered in a semicircle as YUFT member Efdal Savas ’06 read the names of the 25 known victims in the attack. MSA Treasurer Aatif Iqbal ’05 led the attendees in a prayer that began with the opening verse of the Quran.
“First I just want to state the obvious. This is an act of senseless violence,” Iqbal said. “When one life is taken, it’s as if all of humanity has been lost.”
The students then chanted the Jewish memorial prayer for the dead before the vigil was concluded with a moment of silence.
YUFT member Igal Aciman ’07 said the vigil was particularly painful for him because he lost a dear friend in the attack.
“First I was feeling sad,” Aciman said. “Now I feel a sense of loss and rage.”
Aciman said he has researched the attacks since hearing the news about his friend. He said the attack, which destroyed the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues, was aimed at Jews, and that the perpetrators did not care what other civilians were killed in the attack.
“The attack was directed toward Jews and also what Turkey stands for — a cultural mosaic based on mutual tolerance,” Aciman said.
Aciman said the streets of Istanbul directly affected by the destruction of approximately 20 buildings in the attack were covered with flowers in commemoration of the victims. He said the attacks were conducted simultaneously as two trucks filled with 600 kilograms of explosives drove into synagogues in which people were celebrating bar mitzvahs during Shabbat, leaving at least 300 wounded.
“Victims included an eight-year-old girl, a 23-year-old pregnant woman and my friend, who was only 19, same age as me,” he said.
Emily Kopley ’06, who attended the vigil, said events such as the vigil reminded her of her Jewish heritage as well as the tragedy faced by victims of terrorist attacks.
“A vigil is an outlet to address the vulnerability that I don’t think Yalies feel day-to-day,” she said.
Hillel’s Education Vice President Anne Rosenzweig ’05 said before the vigil that she hoped the event would bring Muslim and Jewish students together.
“It’s not a political vigil,” Rosenzweig said. “It’s just a show of solidarity, and I hope it’s a chance to bring different communities together in this campus to condemn this horrific attack.”
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