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The Scarlet & Black

Grinnellians reflect on global terrorism

Students gathered for a silent vigil to commemorate recent attacks on Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. Photo by Jun Taek Lee
Students gathered for a silent vigil to commemorate recent attacks on Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. Photo by Jun Taek Lee


The College community, both on campus and abroad, experienced a variety of responses to the recent attacks on Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. The on-campus response included comments by philosopher and activist Cornel West comments during his lecture and a Paris-Beirut-Baghdad Solidarity Candlelight Vigil held on Monday.

During the Solidarity Candlelight Vigil, student Matthew Henzy ’17 expressed his sadness over the recent attacks.

“It was nice to have a community to feel things together,” Henzy said.

While grief was a component of the vigil, embodied in the poignant lighting of candles, in his opening remarks Dhruv Gupta ’17 set the ultimate goal of their service as individual reflection on internal hatred.

Gupta believes that reflection on hatred is the best way to create peace. In this spirit, Gupta told a personal anecdote about his history of complicated feelings towards Muslim people.

“My family comes from a very Hindi nationalist background … our homes have been burned down by Muslims,” Gupta said in a later interview. “It’s been a thousand years of terrible decay. … At several points in my life I’ve hated Muslim people.”

After recognizing his own internalized Islamophobia, he led the crowd in fifteen minutes of silence and reflection.

Desiree dos Santos da Mota ’17 and Teodora Cakarmis ’17 are studying abroad in Paris and witnessed responses to the attacks by local residents. The response received by Mota emphasized French loss, national solidarity and some anti-refugee sentiment.

“I felt a stronger sense of patriotism in France,” Mota wrote in an email to The S&B.

In addition to these mainly positive responses, Mota noted that some have begun to blame refugees. According to Mota, the recent discovery that two of the attackers were French citizens prompted discussion about integration of minority populations.

“At midday … everybody completely stopped to pay tribute to those who died,” Mota wrote. “It didn’t matter if you were at a café, day traffic, or just at home, everybody stopped to listen to the President speaking and to sing the national anthem.”

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    R. Keith RuggNov 23, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Paris, Beirut, Baghdad… but no candlelight for Israel. This is one of the reasons why I no longer give to Grinnell College when they call and ask for money.