Northwestern’s African Students Association held a vigil at The Rock Tuesday to commemorate the shootings of four African American men in recent days.
Three men, Mohamedtaha Omar, 23, Adam Mekki, 20, and Muhannad Tairab, 17 were murdered “execution-style” in Fort Wayne, Indiana, according to local police. Two of the men were Sudanese immigrants. Two were Muslim.
Abdi Mohamed, 17, was shot by a police officer during an argument with another man, angering onlookers who said the unarmed boy wasn't a threat. The shots put Mohamed into a coma, which according to the Facebook event for Tuesday's vigil, he has recently come out of. Mohamed is from Kenya.
Tuesday’s vigil started with a discussion of the events and a prayer. Afterwards, vigil participants were encouraged to speak about how they were affected by the events.
Coming from a variety of backgrounds, including Islam, Christianity and Judaism, attendees spoke about their religions and recited Quran verses in various languages.
Speakers from immigrant backgrounds drew parralels between the discrimination they faced and the discrimination the victims faced. They drew parallels between the shootings and the killings of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.
Some said that these events showed how Black Muslims are marginalized. Muslim organizations were quick to put out statements and hold vigils within 24 hours after other Muslims were killed this year, but in this case the organizations said they were waiting for more information. Friends, participants said, were asking if the shootings were gang-related.
The shootings come in the wake of a rising tide of Islamaphobia and hate crimes against Muslims. Just over a year ago, three Muslim college students were killed near the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill campus. Between the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks and Dec. 20, there were 38 anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US, according to a study by California State University San Bernadino college professor Brian Levin.
“According to the Malcom X project, every 28 hours a black man is shot in this country," said Tahera Ahmad, Northwestern’s Associate Chaplain and Director of Interfaith Engagement.