The Nov. 13 ISIS attacks in Paris resonates with Seton Hall sophomore Sarah Rizvi, who knew American victim, Nohemi Gonzalez.
Rizvi’s family resided in El Monte, Calif. for 50 years now, the hometown where they formed their relationship with Gonzalez’s parents.
“It was really hard for them to process,” Rizvi says on her family reflecting on the death of 23-yearold Gonzalez. Rizvi added that her mother and relatives went to school with Gonzalez’s parents since kindergarten.
Gonzalez was a California State University-Long Beach student studying abroad in Paris in a design program at the Strate College of Design. Rizvi said, Gonzalez was “having the time of her life” studying abroad before she was shot and killed while eating dinner at a local café.
“She hasn’t been given enough media attention. She’s a U.S. victim and she’s not given any kind of honor or tribute,” said Rizvi, in regards to media coverage of her friend.
At a vigil hosted by the French Club taking place today at 8:30 p.m. on the University Green, club member Rizvi will be sharing Gonzalez’ story along with her perspective about the Paris attack.
“I’m half Pakistani and half Mexican, half of my family is Muslim,” Rizvi said. “It’s so sad that the Muslim population is going to have to feel the backlash of a vicious attack that they don’t sup
port in any form. They’re running from the same people, all the refugees, they’re running from the same ISIS that killed these people in France and that killed people in Beirut and Baghdad.”
Rizvi added that she is the first generation American in her family.
Her father and his brothers came to America from Karachi, Pakistan and she has family that resides in Pakistan. Grief like the one over the death of Nohemi happens every day in the Middle East, says Rizvi. “It makes me so sad,” she said.
French Club Vice President Renata Martins, a junior diplomacy and international relations major minoring in French, said Thursday’s vigil will differ from the world prayer vigil that took place on the University Green on Nov. 14 at 5 p.m.
“There will be people speaking up about the tragedy that happened because it is something that needs to be talked about and not just sit in silence and then leave,” Martins said. “The vigil is a way of coming together, and praying for those families who lost loved ones— it is a way of showing that we are still human regardless of the inhumane acts that happened this past weekend.”
Abraam Dawoud, a junior diplomacy and international relations major, attended the world prayer vigil on Nov. 14.
Dawoud said the vigil was needed and that in light of world terrorism, not just the attack in Paris, it is important for Seton Hall to have a stronger sense of community.
“It’s important for us to be aware about events both domestic and international because it affects our lives whether we like it or not,” Dawoud said. “It’s our turn to take a stand on injustice in the world.” Dawoud references the domestic happenings of protests regarding free speech and racism at the University of Missouri and Yale University.
Dawoud added, “As someone who was born in the Middle East (Cairo, Egypt) and fights for human rights I can tell you that these actions (of ISIS terrorism) do not portray Muslims or Christians in the areas and they are not representative of who we are.”
Father Brian Muzás, assistant professor of diplomacy and international relations, spoke at the weekend’s world prayer vigil, and read from the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible.
Muzás said he will discuss the terrorist attacks with his graduate and undergraduate students.
Rachel Wyncoop, a junior diplomacy and international relations major, is currently studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence, a city in southern France.
“One of the most redeeming qualities about the French that I’ve noticed is their resilience and pride for their country and culture. This has been even more evident since the horrific attacks on Paris,” Wyncoop said.
Wyncoop visited Paris within the past month as part of her semester abroad in France, and reflected on the repercussions of the attack that she experienced.
“It was scary, the enormity of the situation continued to sink in with every passing headline and article I read,” Wyncoop said.
Traveling back to France after a trip to Amsterdam, where she was when the Paris attack happened, was scary, she said, because the borders were closed and travel was restricted. Wyncoop’s study abroad program, CEA, assured students that they would be fine.
Wyncoop said she was touched when she came across the French Consulate while she was exploring Amsterdam on Nov. 14, the day following the Paris attack.
“We found that people had placed flowers and cards all over the front door that read ‘Je pleure avec vous’,” Wyncoop said, translating the French phrase to “I cry with you” in English. “Small acts of love like this make such an impact in a world that has endured so much evil and hate.”
In a statement from President A. Gabriel Esteban to the community, he stated, “I know you all join me in praying for the souls of those who were killed, and for their loved ones, whose mourning has only just begun. Keep them in your hearts, and pray, too, for Paris, the exquisite city of light, and the entire French nation.”
Leah Carton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.