After Friday’s tragedy in Paris and recent incidents in other areas of the world, faculty have organized a candlelight vigil tonight to show solidarity with those affected.
Beginning at 6:30 p.m., they invite members of the campus community to the Kelvin Smith Library oval for a moment of silence and remarks from campus representatives.
The violence in Paris began when a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside France’s national stadium at about 9:20 Friday evening. Within minutes, shooting began at two Paris restaurants, followed by another bombing outside the stadium and several more rounds of gunfire near restaurants and inside a concert hall. All told, nearly 130 people died and hundreds more suffered injuries. The Islamic State (ISIS, or ISIL) later claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The university contacted its two U.S. students studying in France; both were safe. The Center for International Affairs also reached out to French students now on this campus.
The incidents in Paris have commanded much of the world’s attention in recent days, but they are not the only recent examples of bloodshed for which ISIS has claimed credit.
Also on Friday, 26 people died in Baghdad when a bomb went off during a funeral.
A day earlier in Beruit, Lebanon, 43 people died—and more than 200 were wounded—in a double suicide attack during rush hour in a busy pedestrian area.
The attacks come amid a time when bombings and attacks occur almost daily in Syria and Iraq, among other areas.
Marie Lathers, the Elizabeth M. and William C. Treuhaft Professor of French and Humanities, is one of the faculty members organizing this evening’s vigil. She said she has been going to Paris regularly for 35 years and was shocked and saddened by the events in Paris.
“It’s a second home,” she said. “I know Paris like I know Cleveland.”
As Friday’s tragedy unfolded, she realized that the university community needed the opportunity to come together to share sorrows for recent tragedies all over the world. Over the weekend Lathers joined with Cheryl Toman, associate professor of French, to begin planning.
The spontaneous decision quickly has grown to include the Muslim Student Association, Middle Eastern Cultural Association and A La Carte, a French student organization.
While originally sparked by the events in Paris, the vigil also will serve as a place to mourn lives lost elsewhere to terror, and to reflect on ways people here can act to support survivors and stem the mounting violence worldwide.
Lathers explained that she’s conscious that the concerns of terrorism are far wider than Paris.
“On one end, [the event] is a commemoration,” Lathers said. “The other part is to move forward to seek a better world for our children.”
Poster boards will be available for those who would like to share their thoughts. Short speeches are planned.
Attendees are encouraged to bring a candle to the event, but some will be provided.