By Bassel Barakat
An Oxford local has gifted the only mosque in town a small vase of flowers.
During the past week, several community members have sent flowers over the New Zealand massacre, said Naeemul Hassan, Muslim Students Association adviser.
“Most of the members of our community have always been self-aware, given the rise of Islamophobia in today’s world,” Muslim Student Association member Norah Daghestani said.
“But to now have more fear generated for Muslims to attend to their own sanctuary has been a very difficult circumstance for Muslims, and it pains us deeply.”
Many statements were released by the Mississippi Muslim Association and the Muslim Student Association at Ole Miss sending their condolences after the attacks.
Moreover, the Muslim Mississippi Muslim community advised people to be alert and to look out for suspicious behavior.
“Report anything, and I mean anything, to law enforcement,” Mississippi Muslim Association statement reads.
“We have heard opinions from one student who shared concern about security,” Hassan said.
“So, he suggested, if it is possible, to kind of collaborate with the Oxford Muslim Society and request the police department have extra security during the Jumu’ah or the weekly prayers.”
In MSA’s statement, the organization calls for the the community unite.
“There are so many Muslims and non-Muslims coming together to support one another in a time of utter sadness,” Daghestani said.
“I have chosen to turn my focus, more than anything, on remembering the victims. By their names, their faces and their beautiful stories that are told, I want to be inspired from who they once were and learn from them to be a better human being.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim community in Oxford works to improve relationships with people in the city. It’s members will host many events.
“We work the community in different activities,” said Khaled Elhawy, Imam of Oxford’s mosque.
“People are always scared by what they don’t know. I am encouraging people to listen to Muslims, not listen about them from others.”
“We should make our talks more peaceful and productive than destructive,” Elhawy said.
Rev. Eddie Willis, campus minister of the Ole Miss Wesley Foundation, acknowledged that the presence of hatred is boundless.
“Being a religious leader, it abhors me that someone would go into a house of worship and harm innocent people,” Willis said.“It also makes us think about our humanity. Sometimes Oxford is in the news, and this is something that could very well happen to us. Hate is everywhere.”
Furthermore, The university condemned the attacks as a act of violence and against the humanity I’m a released statement.
“These tragic and senseless acts of violence impact our campus community,” the statement read.
“At the University of Mississippi, we condemn bigotry, hatred and violence. We strive to provide students with a safe environment to foster their religious beliefs and spiritual development — no matter the religious affiliation.”
The massacre in New Zealand was the first mass shooting in the country since 1997.
“Whatever people say affects others and affects their decisions and behaviors, so we really need to be concerned about these things,” Elhawy said.