The Drexel Muslim Students’ Association, in collaboration with MSAs from other Philadelphia-area universities, and Philadelphia MSA Council held a candlelight vigil on March 3 at Philadelphia’s City Hall for the three young men that were killed in Fort Wayne, Indiana. On Feb. 24, Muhammad Taha Omar, 23, Adam Mekki, 20, and Muhammad Tairab, 17, were found dead after being shot execution-style at a local hangout house for the community youth. The vigil was meant to raise awareness about the killings as there has been little coverage on the murders in the local and national media. This has outraged Muslim and African American communities across the country. The Fort Wayne police department has ruled out the possibility of a hate crime on the weak basis that one of the victims was Christian and two were Muslim. The governor of Indiana has also been silent on the issue.
The vigil began with Drexel Chaplain Niaz Hannan addressing the crowd saying how this shooting was eerily similar to the Chapel Hill shooting last year where three young Muslim students at UNC were killed. Many Muslims see this as a hate crime birthed by Islamophobia and a direct product of the rhetoric used by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Abou Bility followed Hannan with an emotional address. After a moment of silence, a few more individuals addressed the crowd. Habeeb Admeola Suara, a Penn student, said, “We don’t know if these men were targeted because they were thought to be Muslim or black or the children of immigrants. But I think the bigger problem is that we live in a society where we even have to ask these questions. But if we come together, like we have here tonight, then we can use our voices to make a positive impact on society.”
PMC’s president Ammar Shahid, who is a student at the Drexel’s College of Medicine, summed it up saying, “I know that we still don’t have the full details of the shooting such as what was the motive, any affiliations, or who did it, but I think the fact that it took so long to bring the news to mainstream media is the bigger issue. Again we can’t say for certain if it was a hate crime yet, but the fact of the matter is that three people were shot execution style – something that no one deserves regardless of their race, color, or belief. The fact that it took so long for our media to portray this shows a serious problem with our perception of things and is quite concerning.”
Chaplain Niaz then led the students in a prayer mourning #OurThreeBrothers — the popular hashtag being used on social media to discuss the event – followed by a supplication, which is a vocal call to Allah (God) that typically occurs after prayer. Although this vigil was held halfway across the country from where these murders took place, news of the incident is not widespread. If one searches “Fort Wayne” on the internet, only a couple of results listed are about the tragedy. The Triangle asked a few random students around campus if they had heard of the shooting. None of them even knew where Fort Wayne was.