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Muslim students organize a peace walk to honor victims of the Christchurch, New Zealand shootings

Aveista+Helmandi%2C+the+communications+director+for+the+Muslim+Student+Association%2C+speaks+to+students+during+a+walk+out+on+Thursday%2C+March+21+on+Raider+Walk.+Helmandi+and+the+MSA+orchestrated+the+walk+out+after+the+shooting+in+New+Zealand.+Photo+credit%3A+Evan+Reinhardt
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Muslim students organize a peace walk to honor victims of the Christchurch, New Zealand shootings

Aveista Helmandi, the communications director for the Muslim Student Association, speaks to students during a walk out on Thursday, March 21 on Raider Walk. Helmandi and the MSA orchestrated the walk out after the shooting in New Zealand. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Aveista Helmandi, the communications director for the Muslim Student Association, speaks to students during a walk out on Thursday, March 21 on Raider Walk. Helmandi and the MSA orchestrated the walk out after the shooting in New Zealand. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Aveista Helmandi, the communications director for the Muslim Student Association, speaks to students during a walk out on Thursday, March 21 on Raider Walk. Helmandi and the MSA orchestrated the walk out after the shooting in New Zealand. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Aveista Helmandi, the communications director for the Muslim Student Association, speaks to students during a walk out on Thursday, March 21 on Raider Walk. Helmandi and the MSA orchestrated the walk out after the shooting in New Zealand. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Danitza Romero

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Moorpark College community members gathered around Raider Walk on Thursday morning to honor the victims of the Christchurch, New Zealand shootings and to recognize Muslims across the world.

In the wake of the New Zealand mass shooting, where 50 people were fatally shot and killed in two Christchurch mosques, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Moorpark College organized a peace walk.

The MSA advocates learning about different religions by visiting mosques, churches, synagogues, and temples.

“It’s very important to spread initiative, especially because of the New Zealand shooting,” Aveista Helmandi, MSA communications director, said. “It’s a clear indicator that Islamophobia is on the rise and we don’t want our community to be affected, specifically Moorpark College and Ventura County community area.”

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Salman Muntazir, vice president of the Muslim Student Association, speaks to a gathering crowd about the danger of islamophobia and hate speech, during a student walk out on Thursday, March 21 on Raider Walk. The MSA organized the event to spread the message of peace and love. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Bakkr Alnaji, a member of the MSA, started the peace walk with a prayer from the Qur’an. Then, Salman Muntazir, Vice President of the Muslim Student Association, spoke about the rise of Islamophobia in America and the need for universal peace.

Members of the MSA urged students and staff to chant, “peace is great, no place for hate.” Following the chanting, Helmandi read the names and bios of the 50 victims who were murdered while members stood with posters of peace.

“I feel like the only way to do this is to educate people in the area because the youth at the end of the day is the future and our future generations need to know who we are and what we stand for,” Helmandi said. “We [need to] falsify this rhetoric that’s on the media and stop the stereotypes and stigmatic oppression that Muslims face on a daily basis.”

The prayers continued along with chants like, “spread love, not hate.”

Katy Webb, a student studying linguistics and non-member of the MSA, felt compelled to stand next to her peers during the walk. She recognizes the solidarity needed at this time to unite against hatred and violence.

“I need to stand with my brothers and sisters and show them my love and that I am here for them,” Webb said.

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Students stand in a moment of silence during a walk out in response to the mosque shooting in New Zealand, on Raider Walk on Thursday, March 21. The walk out was orchestrated by the Muslim Student Association, who aimed to recognize the lives lost in the shooting. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

“The only thing we are here for today is to spread peace and positivity and just have a loving society,” Sarah Helmandi said, a student of Muslim religion. “Everyone should just come with open arms and mindset…we don’t want anything from them except for just unity with our society.”

At the end of the Peace Walk, Muntazir requested a moment of silence and prayer as a last act of remembrance to those affected by the massacre.

The peace walk brought out many supporters including Masuda Helmandi, a Moorpark College alumni.

“I am incredibly proud of the work that is being done here. I didn’t even know that there [was a] MSA was back then and the fact that there is one and it’s so active like this. It’s just so beautiful to see,” Helmandi said.

The MSA’s purpose is spreading peace and helping out the whole community.

The association hopes to spread awareness and work with all minorities on campus to bring unity.

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About the Writer
Danitza Romero, Staff writer

Danitza Romero is a returning student and excited to start a new adventure in the industry of journalism. Besides being a reporter for Student Voice, she...

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