By Jacqueline Lopez-Crisp

Cal Poly Pomona’s Habesha Unity Group and Coptic Club hosted a candlelight vigilin honor of the victims of the Islamic State.

According to second-year political science student and Habesha Unity Group President Kaleab Habtemariam, the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, has killed over 150 Christians since February. The killings have affected African countries including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt and Kenya, said Habtemariam.

On Tuesday, members of the organizations came together to remember these lives.

“Aside from all of our differences, we can come together because we believe that our rights will be infringed upon if we don’t say something,” said Habtemariam.

Guests that attended the candlelight vigil watched videos and news reports of the recent attacks. Students also expressed their emotions.

“We need to make this campus aware of what’s been happening,” said Habtemariam. “Even though it was Christians that were killed, it’s people that practiced a faith that they had picked.”

According to Habtemariam, the vigil also lets those in mourning appreciate what is made available to them.

“I think what we’re doing [at the vigil] most importantly, besides commemorating and remembering the lives of those that were massacred, killed and beheaded, is that we’re taking the time to appreciate what we have here in the United States,” said Habtemariam. “[We are able to] practice whatever faith we wish to practice, or to not practice, or to believe in the God that we want to believe in or to not believe at all. We take that for granted.”

Habtemariam feels that the events in the other countries are bringing appreciation and unity to the groups.

“It’s awful that it had happened, but it’s also kind of making us grateful and making us reflect on how fortunate we are to be in a place where your faith is not going to get you killed, because you better believe that it’s happening all over the world,” said Habtemariam.

According to first-year business student Rashi Nashed, the vigil was necessary for members of both organizations.

“I really liked [the event] because I feel like most of us needed it,” said Nashed. “We needed to hear the word. We need to have peace because the first thing you [felt] was hate, but then you did have to change that to peace. If you didn’t, then you wouldn’t be a true Christian.”

Second-year hospitality management student Mira Hanna expressed her feelings about the news trying to distract viewers of important things that are going on.

“When the 21 [Christians] were beheaded, the black and [blue] dress [sensation] came out right after just to get everyone’s attention away from what’s happening outside,” said Hanna. “Which is really sad because there are [bigger] priorities than that.”

Hanna believes exposure to recent events may be beneficial to the university community.

“It’s good to show to the campus that there’s a lot going on in the world and not just in America,” said Hanna.

Vigil

Leanna Ahmed / The Poly Post

Vigil

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