Students hold vigil for victims in Pakistani school massacre

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COLUMBIA - About 30 people stood in complete silence for 141 seconds, while the candles they held in their cold hands burned brightly.

On Tuesday, members of the Taliban laid siege to a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. After 8 hours and more than 140 victims,132 of them children, the country plunged into mourning.

Kiran Choudhry was born in Pakistan but she lives in Columbia. She attended a vigil on the University of Missouri campus Wednesday night to honor the fallen victims in Tuesday's massacre.

"These children are the same everywhere, they are just innocent," she said. "This is hitting very close to home, and there are just no words to describe how I feel."

Salman Mahmood is the president of the Muslim Student Organization (MSO), and he organized Wednesday's vigil. He wanted to bring a diverse group of people together from all walks of life so he invited all members of campus and the community to pray and honor the victims.

"Terrorism has no religion, and its victims can be anybody," he said. "We should all come together not as a religion but as people against terrorism."

Representatives from MSO, the Jewish Student Organization, and Chi Alpha gave their respects and offered comfort during the ceremony.

At one point the group had a 141 second moment of silence, which Mahmood said would honor every single one of the victims.

Children from the local Islamic school in downtown Columbia held candles and a banner that people signed as a way to show their lasting support for the victims and their families.

"Even our kids support it because they are the Muslim kid students here that would support the ones in Pakistan," he said. 

Malmood said another reason they held the vigil was to make a distinct difference between terrorists and the religion of Islam.

He said he was taught Muslims should spread their message with peace and not violence, but that message often gets abused and twisted around, especially by terrorists. 

Ismam Islam is a graduate student at Mizzou, and he said bringing everyone together is the only way to spread the word about these tragedies.

"It's important to make these incidents known so we can better ourselves as a society," he said.