Prayers for Peshawar
By: Emna Baccar
December 17, 2014
At 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 16, Georgetown’s Red Square filled with over 40 people carrying flickering candles, which dimly lit the usually dark area. The occasion for the gathering was yet another vigil, this time marking the massacre of 132 innocent school children and nine faculty in Peshawar, Pakistan. The loss was the result of a violent and inhuman attack carried out by seven members of the Pakistani Taliban on an army school earlier in the day.
As students silently gathered, the profound sense of solidarity was evident in the diversity of those who attended. While many were members of our Pakistani community here at Georgetown, many others were not, representing instead students of other backgrounds who had come to acknowledge the loss of not just Pakistani lives, but those of our fellow humans. Mariam Matin (SFS’ 15) spoke well when she mentioned that this atrocity was not a reminder to a select few, but to all of us who are so privileged to be studying here at Georgetown. The lives that were lost today were in the midst of doing what we too are doing, seeking an education, a basic human right—a right evidently that cannot be so freely carried out for some.
While we students struggle during finals week, it is important that we remember that the hardship of studying at a school like Georgetown is a fortune very few get to complain about. Today, those children and their parents were deprived of many basic human rights that we enjoy. For the children, these were the blessings of being safe and secure, for example, often overlooked as we worry over exams and papers. And when we finish our finals and head back home to our parents, who eagerly await our return, consider the parents in Pakistan, who were probably doing the same thing. Those parents’ rights—to hope that their children too will come back home—were wrongfully snatched away from them.
Let us then, be grateful for these rights as we finish exams and return to our families, stopping to recognize that they aren’t guaranteed. Let us use this privilege of education to effectively stand for justice and peacefully oppose those who use ignorance and violence to wrongfully seize the rights of others. Let us also pray for these parents, as Bassam Sidiki (COL’ 16) so beautifully did, and hope for their peace as they cope with such an incredible loss. Most importantly, let us honor the innocent children whose bright lights, like the flickering flames of the candles at the vigil, went out much too soon. Let us keep them in our thoughts so their memories shine on.