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MU student organizations hold vigil for the lives lost in Palestine

Hands holding a candle
Prateek Gautam
Members of Mizzou Students for Justice in Palestine were happy to see support from different groups of people, religion and backgrounds.

COLUMBIA - MU students, faculty and local community leaders gathered at Speakers Circle on MU's campus to participate in the Vigil for Palestine, hosted by the Mizzou Students for Justice in Palestine (MJSP) organization.

Thursday's vigil was created to spread awareness about the Israeli-Hamas conflict currently going on overseas. Around 100 people attended.

The organization invited multiple MU student groups such as Young Democratic Socialists of America and Muslim Students' Organization.

"Under these very sad circumstances, we are forced to do vigils and kind of speak out and do things that have a more serious tone to them," MJSP President Isleen Atallah said.

The vigil began with a gathering at Speaker's Circle, and multiple speeches from the organization's members and current MU professors and faculty. Then, the group took their signs and megaphones to the sidewalks of Columbia.

"It's really important to show up together and to share this burden, to share this pain, because that's one of the few things that we can do to actually ease it," Ian De Smet, a student participant of the vigil, said.

After the speeches, members took part in an organized walk to Broadway and back.

"The goal of this vigil is to bring awareness to the political situation and of course military situation that's unfolding in from of everyone's eyes right now," MJSP Communications Chair Ethan Waterman said.

People of all ages were in attendance, raising signs and holding up Palestinian flags.

"Our goal is to reach out to the Mizzou community, whether it's the students or just the community in general, to raise our voices and raise our concerns and hopefully help de-escalate this tragedy," Atallah said.

Chants such as, "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!" and "free, free Palestine" were shouted back and forth.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has hit close to home for some students at MU.

Atallah was born and raised in Palestine and moved to the U.S. about three years ago. And has family and friends currently in Palestine that are directly impacted from the attacks.

"I have friends and family that lost friends and family. So I haven't been able to sleep. I haven't been able to eat," Atallah said. "I've just been really disheartened and I've been carrying this sadness in my heart."

Another MU Student, Ian De Smet, originally from Chile, says there is a large Palestinian population in Chile.

"A lot of my friends and the people that I grew up with were Palestinian," De Smet said. "I had to grow up learning about the history of their families and their displacement and their exile." De Smet said.

Members from the organization said they weren't expecting so many people to come out and attend and are happy to see all the support from different groups of people, religions and backgrounds.

Another goal of this vigil was to raise awareness to U.S. involvement in the war.

"As Americans, we really need to be aware of where our money is going and where our morals lie and with whom," Atallah said.

In upcoming weeks, the organization plans to celebrate Palestinian culture by hosting cultural events, sharing Palestinian food and music.

"Keeping up with our social media is a really good step if you're interested to learn more about our group," Atallah said.

To report an error or typo, email news@komu.com.

KOMU 8 is a full-powered NBC affiliate operating as an independent commercial property. As such, KOMU 8 is the only major network affiliate in the United States that acts as a university-owned commercial television station utilizing its newsroom as a working lab for students.
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