12/21/12: Community reacts to Connecticut elementary school massacre

Community reacts to Connecticut elementary school massacre 

By Samer Hijazi

Friday, 12.21.2012, 04:40pm- Arab American News

DEARBORN, DEARBORN HEIGHTS -- The Lebanese American Heritage Club (LAHC) with the co-sponsorship of the Arab Student Union of the University of Michigan Dearborn held a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut on Monday, December 17th in front of City Hall.

Twenty elementary school children aged six and seven, along with six staff and faculty members were killed by a gunman last Friday, before taking his own life shortly after. The incident brought droves of emotions and discussions, and the community here was no different.

A Candlelight vigil at city hall was held in honor of the Sandy Hook Elementary victims. PHOTO: Samer Hijazi/TAAN"I saw the news and I couldn't take it, so I put myself in those families shoes. You can imagine the reaction, if you were a part of one of these families. We always care about outside stuff like what's going on in Palestine, what's going on in Syria or what's going on in the Arab world. But we never care about what's going on in Michigan or what's going on in our nation. The youth are reacting to something that's going on in the U.S, and that's amazing," stated Hussein Hachem.

The group of commemorators weren't just honoring the victims, but among certain individuals, the topic of gun control had also come up.

"I came out today because the least we can do is to pay our respects to what has happened. But I think something needs to be done  globally. A few years back when there was a shoe bombing, it forced us to take our shoes off at the airport. This is not the first time there has been shootings at schools and nothing has been done to stop it. I think there needs to be measures taken so this doesn't happen again. A lot of people who own guns are not mentally stable, so I think gun owners should be mentally evaluated repeatedly," stated Zeinab W. Bazzi, a student from the University of Michigan Dearborn.

Other individuals had stated that regardless of any preventive actions taken in the future, you could never predict when something of this tragic nature would occur.

"We are part of this great nation. We share the happiness and we share the sadness and tragedies. As an Arab American community, we are always protesting for the Middle East, but today we are here to show a great appreciation for this nation. You can take all the precautions and try to take all these measures, but when a sick act like this happens, you pray for the best," stated Ali Jawad, the founder of the Lebanese Heritage Club.

Another individual also echoed in on these statements, stating that criminals are still likely to get their hands on a gun, even if more restrictions are put in place.

"I think you can't control guns. If a criminal wants to get a gun, he will get a gun no matter what laws are in place. So more laws are not going to help solve this issue," Alicia Beydoun, a student from Henry Ford Community College had stated.

Another ceremony in commemoration of the victims was expected to be held on Thursday, Dec. 20 by the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit (IFLC) at Groves High School, 20500 West 13 Mile Road in Beverly Hills.

Islamic House of Wisdom honors Sandy Elementary victims

The Islamic House of Wisdom (IHW) in Dearborn Heights held an event to commemorate the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy on Sunday during a family breakfast service.

Imam Elahi the spiritual leader of IHW dedicated his Sunday message addressing the connecticut tragedy and the lessons our community and nation can learn to prevent such future occurrences. 

"We understand the pain of those parents who lost their beloved ones and share our thoughts and prayers with the rest of our nation in sympathy and solidarity with those suffering families," Imam Elahi stated.

Imam Elahi criticized the double standards in the mainstream media who used words like gunman or shooter instead of terrorist for the Connecticut murderer. He said, if the killer carried an Islamic or Arabic name they would mislabel his name, religion and cultural background. Imam Elahi cited multiple negative influences which could lead someone to commit such horrid acts.

"To protect society and establish a foundation of national security we must start from home by instilling faith, family values and educating our children with the principles of love, forgiveness, respect, responsibility, modesty, humility and positive energy. Increasing the sale of guns in addition to the widespread abuse of drugs, alcohol and violent video games calls on society to evaluate its direction. Mental illness, which has become a recent scapegoat of blame in many tragedies calls for allocation of financial resources, study, proper care and awareness," Imam Elahi stated. 

Imam Elahi advised the community to keep their children close to God, in order for them to avoid evil influences.

"For the Muslim community to protect our children we must teach them the importance of loving the Lord and His creation, reflection of God’s attributes towards application within our own lives and prayer. We must protect them from associating with faithless friends and evil influences," Imam Elahi added.