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Standing Strong

Standing StrongStudents and faculty rallied together on the Tisch Library patio just one week after a 60-hour long terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, killed nearly 200 people.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.05.08] It was late evening in India on Nov. 26 when the first shots were fired at a railway station in Mumbai. Over the next 60 hours, terrorists would take hostages at 10 targeted locations and kill nearly 200 citizens and foreigners, wounding hundreds more.

Before most students returned to campus from Thanksgiving break, the South Asian Political Action Committee (SAPAC) had already joined forces with members of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), Tufts Hillel and the Institute for Globa Leadershipto plan their stand against terror, organizing a rally on the Tisch Library patio for Dec. 3.

Carrying signs reading "Enough is Enough" and "We Stand United," at least 100 people gathered to listen to students, faculty and staff share their thoughts on the tragedy.

"Today we want to stand together as a Tufts community and have the Mumbai attacks serve as a catalyst from which we can move forward and denounce terror not just in Mumbai, but across the world," said Faris Islam (A'11), co-chair of SAPAC.

History Professor Ayesha Jalal opened the rally by noting the challenges facing South Asia as the region begins to move forward after the attacks.

Want to do your part? SAPAC is compiling a scrapbook with messages of peace and support for the citizens of Mumbai that they will be sending to the Indian Consulate. Copies of the book can be found in the Tower Café at Tisch Library, the Cabot Intercultural Center and the Mayer Campus Center. 

"The terrorists pose a challenge to our common humanity, and what we need to do in order to meet this challenge is to resist the temptation to enter into hate mongering and finger pointing," said Jalal, who has extensively studied the politics of the region. "Terrorists have a culture of their own and we have to resist them with all the forces at our disposal."

She added, "What is really important, not just for us, but for South Asia particularly, is to engage in debate. Terror seeks to close debate; we need to open debate, hearts and minds to understand our common humanity. And I think if we lose sight of that we actually help the terrorists in their enterprise to divide and control us."

Sherman Teichman, director of the Institute for Global Learning, implored the community to think critically about how to prevent a similar incident in the future.

"The response that is necessary today is an incessant militancy to not yield to this kind of attack," Teichman said. "It is now time to heal, but we have to be provocative in our thinking-how to find causality, how to find a measure of response, how to deny this on every level."

Similarly, Assistant Professor of History Kris Manjapra urged attendees to find a call to action amidst the grief.

"I think it is important that when we finish mourning, which is an important task, we also have to think about what our calling is in this time," Manjapra said. "We are called to do something, we have to come up with different answers and we will be able to do that."

In a written statement, Provost Jamshed Bharucha, a native of Mumbai, conveyed his shock at the attack, saying that this proves now, more than ever, the importance of an international education.

"The world is going to need as much education as we can provide if we are going to learn to live together," Bharucha wrote. "We are all human beings first, and we need to stand up for each other."

Freshman Alisha Sett, one of several Mumbai natives in the Tufts community, shared what it was like to see several locations she frequented in her youth come under attack.

"The places attacked included some places that were very close to my heart," said Sett. "The Leopold Café was where I spent half my summers and incidentally was where I made my decision to come to Tufts. The thought that 10 attackers could paralyze the commercial capital of my country for three days is very frightening... It has shaken up those who were complacent and thought they were away from it all."

Chanie Backman of Tufts' Chabad House, wife of Rabbi Tzvi Backman, reflected on the targeted attack at the Chabad House in Mumbai.

"The tears flow, the emotions are raw and the pain is deep, but we must not let the pain consume us," Chanie said. "We must channel the energy from the pain so that something positive can come from this great evil. Small acts of goodness and kindness can dispel large acts of hatred and evil."

Junior Golam Rezwan Khan, head of public relations for SAPAC and one of the principal organizers for the rally, said he left the event "feeling a little more optimistic about life and the state of our world."

"The turnout greatly exceeded our expectations and it was heart-warming to see so many people showing up and expressing solidarity with the people of a very far away land," Khan said. "The fact that people showed up for over an hour during the last week of class-that is what active citizenship is all about."

By Kaitlin Melanson, Web Communications. 

 

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