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Students hold vigil for victims of Mumbai terrorist attacks

BY BENJAMIN S. CHASE
Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 1, 2008

With the world still reeling from the 60-hour terrorist siege that began last week in Mumbai, India, about 200 students gathered last night on the Diag to remember the at least 188 people who were killed in the attacks.

BENJI DELL/ Daily
LSA Senior Alex Perry and LSA Junior Romargo Ludmer listen in silence to the names of the victims of the Mumbai attacks being read at a Vigil late Monday night on the Diag. Ann Arbor, MI.

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The University and the Michigan Student Assembly sponsored the vigil, which drew a large crowd despite brisk winds and snow that threatened to extinguish the students’ candles.

“With the strength of the human spirit we can overcome this,” Anjali Anturkar, the University's associate vice president of student affairs, said during the event.

MSA President Sabrina Shingwani led off the event, speaking while standing next to students holding both Indian and American flags. The hushed crowd drew close to the Hatcher Graduate Library steps, which served as a makeshift stage, listening to those who spoke.

Anturkar reaffirmed the evening’s reverential and conciliatory tone, telling students, “Just because the world is unsafe — is becoming unsafe — does not mean we lose hope.”

Rabbi Alter Goldstein, of the Michigan Chabad House, also spoke, urging students to unite to heal the wounds caused by the attacks.

“When the world was created, it was with one and many came after it. Tonight we come as many and are one,” he said.

Those gathered on the Diag bowed their heads for a moment of silence after volunteers from the crowd stepped to the microphone to read the names of those killed in the attacks. Students left condolences and brief messages of hope on a poster bearing a block ‘M’ and an Indian flag.

The Chabad House will host a public service at 8 p.m. tonight to remember the victims of the attacks at the Jewish Center and across Mumbai. Terrorists specifically targeted the Chabad outreach center in Mumbai, killing nine, including two Americans.

The vigil and attacks that inspired it elicited mixed reactions from those who attended, ranging from grief and sorrow to anger and even hope for the future. Alum Aaftab Husain, who graduated last spring, said the event "gives you hope at a time when hope is lost."

With the attacks and bloodshed still fresh in the minds of students on campus and people around the world, some felt that justice must be meted out to those responsible for the violence.

Vijay Ramprasad, a graduate student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, said the Mumbai attacks made him angry.

“It’s directed toward the terrorists, the brains behind the attacks and perhaps Pakistan,” he said.

But the evening’s overall tone was one of solemnity and remembrance for the victims of the attacks and their families, with students coming together to grieve and help each other cope.

“Events like this strengthen us even more and bring us together,” LSA sophomore Pratik Narula said.