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New Orleans students host vigil for Palestinian martyrs

By Juleea Berthelot

Speaker at vigil for Palestinian martyrs on Loyola University campus. | Fight Back! News/staff

New Orleans, LA– On January 29, students, faculty, staff and community members attended a vigil for Palestine at Loyola University to mourn over 27,000 Palestinian martyrs.

After months of back-and-forth struggle with the Loyola University New Orleans administration, students were finally able to hold a vigil honoring all of the martyrs in Palestine since October 7. The vigil allowed attendees an opportunity to hear from Palestinian voices and other perspectives, and allowed them the space to stand together, mourn together, pray together and cry together.

The vigil opened up with a prayer and was followed by several speakers from the community, students from both Loyola and Tulane Universities, and concluded with speeches and prayers.

Hakm Murad, a member of Masjid Omar Mosque, located on the West Bank of New Orleans, stated, “When the poorest, most oppressed, and most exploited people in the world say, ‘we want to be free,’ they say ‘you’re terrorists.’ I say it’s a projection. Colonial power that brutalizes and savages all over the world calls other people savages. The only savages are the people in the legislative offices, and the headquarters of corporations who plan these massacres all over the world. The Palestinian flag represents human freedom.”

Speakers stood on a stage behind a memorial installation created for the event that had the names of over 1500 Palestinians that lost their lives since October 7. At the bottom, it read “+25,000 more” to include the, at the time, estimated number of lives lost that could not fit on the board.

“It's hard to imagine that many individual people, our brains aren't really built for that. But these aren't just numbers. Each fact I just read to you is the sum of a person plus a person plus a person plus a person. A person with a childhood. A person with a favorite movie or song. A person who fell in love. A person who went through heartbreak. A person with insecurities or a person who bites their nails too much,” said Silas Gillett, a student from Tulane Students for a Democratic Society.

In the middle of the event, attendees were invited to place gifts, such as flowers and candles, at the shrine and a moment of silence followed.

“Every untold story, every unread poem, every painful scream and cry. We carry their pain with us. We carry their legacies. we will not allow them to be erased or made into statistics,” said Nour Saad, a Palestinian student from Loyola.

This vigil happened just after the recent news of the murder of a Palestinian-New Orleanian youth, Tawfic Abdeljabbar. Abdeljabbar was killed by an Israeli settler in a senseless act of violence, bringing the struggle for Palestinian liberation to the heart of the New Orleans community.

The vigil was organized by Loyola Students for a Democratic Society and the Muslim Students Association.

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