Vigil held for Oxford students
David Leinweber, an associate professor of European History at Oxford College of Emory University, said after he finished grading Abinta Kabir’s final examination from the summer course she’d taken, he sent her an email telling her how much he appreciated her paper.
“I don’t even know if she received it,” Leinweber said.
Kabir, 19, a rising Oxford College sophomore, and Faraaz Hossain, 21, a 2016 graduate of Oxford College enrolled in Goizueta Business School at Emory, were among the 22 people, including two police officers, killed July 2 in a massacre in Dhaka, Bangledash. The two students, along with friend Tarishi Jain, a University of California, Berkeley student, were having lunch together at the Holey Artisan Bakery when militants took more than 30 people hostage.
Thursday, at Canon Chapel on Emory University, students, faculty and administrators,
as well as two of Hossain’s cousins, gathered for a vigil in the victims’ honor. The vigil offered reflections from those who knew Kabir and Hossain, along with prayers for peace around the world.
Services included Islamic, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Hindi prayers and Pakistani music. Officiated over by the Rev. Lyn Pace, a United Methodist chaplain at Oxford College, the interfaith vigil included Islamic, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Hindi prayers, and readings of Bangladesh poetry.
Eighteen students carried a white Gerber Daisy to place in two clear vases on either side of the pulpit, each representing a victim of the massacre. Doug Hicks, Dean-elect of Oxford College, and Erika James, Dean of Goizueta Business School, each placed a yellow Gerber daisy representing Kabir and Hossain, in the vases.
One of the speakers at the vigil, Rifat Mursalin, a 2016 graduate of Emory, said Hossain had refused to leave his two friends even though he was allowed to go. According to press accounts, the militants, later identified as being associated with ISIS, demanded that people recite from the Koran and if they did, they were allowed to go.
“Dhaka is the place of my birth,” Mursalin said. “I took my first steps there, spoke my first words. It taught me how to live, how to love.”
Emory, he said, was the second place where he learned to live and love. “The places I’ve called home — Dhaka and Emory — have collided in a horrible way ... Dhaka was home and it took two of our own from Emory ... The world seemed like an unfair place. What did Faraaz and Abinta and everyone else do to deserve such a fate?
“My heart goes out to all who started the month of Ramadan with their loved ones and end it without them,” he said.
Hossain had returned to Bangladesh in May for the summer. Kabir, who was born in Miami, listed Dhaka as her home on her Facebook page. She, too, had returned to Dhaka for the summer. Like Hossain, she planned to attend Goizueta Business School at Emory University, expecting to graduate in 2019. Both students had been active on the Student Activities Committee at Oxford. FALL REMEMBRANCE AT OXFORD
Though Leinweber was unable to make the vigil on Thursday, he said he will attend any remembrance planned for the fall.
“Abinta was a very bright, very disciplined, very hardworking student,” he said. “She was a likeable and personable young lady. She was ear-marked for success.”
Leinweber said Kabir loved Bangladesh and talked about it quite a bit. “She was very positive about Bangladesh and very aring about the people. He said during the course on European history, the five students in the class discussed the British Empire, which had once ruled over India. In 1947, Pakistan and India gained independence from Britain, and later Bangladesh would earn independence from Pakistan in 1971.
“She shared quite a bit about Bangladesh, and her family [with the class],” he said.
Leinweber describes Kabir as being smart, de- cent, respectful, kind and easy going.
According to a statement from Joe Moon, Dean of Campus Life, Lyn Pace, Oxford chaplain and Doug Hicks, Dean of Oxford College, “we will find an appropriate time and way to remember Abinta and Faraaz as well as to create space for our grief and sadness” when students return to campus in late August.
Counselors, clergy and other professionals were made available to students, staff and faculty.
“The Emory community mourns this tragic and senseless loss of two members of our university family,” wrote James Wagner, President of Emory Univer- sity on the school’s web site. “Our thoughts and prayers go out on behalf of Faraaz and Abinta and their families and friends for strength and peace at this unspeakably sad time.”
In his statement, Wagner reported he had been in touch with both students’ families, and asked for kind thoughts and sincere prayers for them.
During a vigil held at Canon Chapel on Emory the University campus, Doug Hicks, Dean-elect of Oxford College, and Erika James, Dean of Goizueta Business School, each placed a yellow Gerber daisy representing students Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain, in in vases holding white Gerber daisies, representing the 18 other victims of the July 2 massacre in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
On Saturday, the day after the Dhaka massacre, students began placing flowers on the steps of Seney Hall in remembrance of Abinta Kabir, 19, a rising sophomore, and Faraaz Hossain, 21, a 2016 graduate of Oxford College at Emory University.