Students gathered in the center of The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus Friday night to memorialize the victims of terrorism around the world. Southern Miss’ Amnesty International organized the candlelight vigil to bring students together in light of recent tragedies across the globe.
Jonathan Bridenbaker, sophomore communication studies and history double major, is the organization’s president and came up with the idea for the event. Bridenbaker wanted to bring awareness to the attacks.
“Oftentimes, western countries don’t have to worry about this kind of death and destruction on a daily basis, but those that do get left out of our dialogues about terrorism,” Bridenbaker said. “We have to mourn for all victims of terrorisms, whether they be American, European, Syrian or Nigerian.”
Approximately 10 students attended the vigil and stood in solidarity for the victims around the world.
After hearing the death toll from the attacks, students had the opportunity to give their personal opinions about the events. Mass communication Ph.D. candidate Zainul Abedin attended the event and gave his perspective on the issue.
As a person from Bangladesh now living in America, he was grateful Amnesty International hosted the event. He described Western retaliations as fighting a snake with multiple heads.
“World leaders of these countries need to stop themselves and think about why these things are happening,” Abedin said. “Hundreds of
thousands of bombs have dropped. We are killing one snake, and they are growing more snakes. (These) are the original sins we are doing.”
Many students have not seen such large-scale terrorist attacks since 9/11.
For some, attacks in a city like Paris brought the current terrorism issue to the fronts of their minds. Senior communication studies major Austin Allen attended the event as a way to give his condolences.
“I felt like after the attacks last week, it was hard for me to even comprehend what had happened,” Allen said. “So by coming to this, I was able to show some respect and actually have a moment to where I able think about the travesty that happened last week.”
Becca Pittman, senior English major, expressed similar feelings toward the vigil. Though she is a member of Amnesty International, the vigil was a time for her to show that she stands on the side of humanity. The vigil provided a moment to stand together in support of the victims but she felt there could have been more students in attendance.
“I definitely think there are a lot of us millennials who are involved with human rights organizations, but there needs to be more of a push for more unifying clubs,” Pittman said. “We had a pretty good showing considering it’s a Friday night, and it was kind of put together last minute, but realistically there should have been more people here to show their support.”
Amnesty International’s primary mission is to aid during times of conflict and to advocate for human rights. The candlelight vigil was one of the many events the organization puts on to highlight issues within the international community.
“Any amount of people that is able to come together to talk about these issues is pretty significant,” Bridenbaker said. “It very heartwarming to see that there are people out there that legitimately care about issues like this.”