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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Letter to the Editor: Humanity is not one sided

Senior Hasan Pyarali urges the Wake Forest community to stand together against hatred
Hasan Pyarali

Dear Wake Forest,

I want to start by thanking those who came to the vigil. It meant so much to me that each and every one of you took time out of your days to be together in this moment of prayer. 

I decided to write to you all today so that I could express the pain and sadness I have, and I know all of us have been feeling lately. 

I would like to share with you my experience with this conflict because while for some this conflict started just a few weeks ago, it has been ongoing in my life since I was a kid, and sadly has been ongoing since before I was even born. 

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One day, in 2014, my dad took me to the local mosque for our prayers. Just a little background — our prayers are usually very solemn, and the Imam or priest reads just what’s written in the book without any input. So I was shocked when he started the prayers and he got halfway through to the verse where it says “God, it is you we worship and you we ask for help” halfway through this verse his voice cracked, and he broke down crying. 

Now I was only 12 years old at the time but even at that young age I felt like crying too. I didn’t quite understand the depth of the conflict but when he told us about his niece who was killed and told us about his mom who he’d never see again, I cried too. You see, this is not just a hot headline for me. It is a source of emotional bleeding I and millions of other Muslims and Jews have to endure every day, and the bleeding, both physically and emotionally, never seems to end. 

When I woke up on Oct. 7, I felt sick with pain. Seeing innocent people die in a conflict they had no part in — mothers, kids, aunts, sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles and friends — gave me a sinking feeling that day and seeing my Jewish friends feel that pain made it all so much worse.

I felt this way because I grew up with a religion and a set of values that says “if you kill one innocent person, it is as if you have killed the entirety of humanity” and so for me,  I will always find it horrible and unacceptable when innocent people are targeted.

Sadly, the dying didn’t end that day either. Since then, more than 9,000 people have been killed with more than 3,000 of them being children. They were mothers, aunts, sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, and friends too. Their lives had value too. 

It has been so painful for me to see videos every day of babies being pulled out of the rubble, mothers crying upon hearing the news and seeing the reaction of kids losing their parents in real time. While the heartbreak I have suffered cannot be accounted for, and I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be a kid in Gaza or Israel. Because but for the grace of god, that could be me in there, and but for the grace of god, it could be any of us. I sure hope if it was me, there’d be people standing with me in my pain, which is why I was so glad to see you all there with me at the vigil.

I’ll leave you with a poem that has guided me through tough times such as these. It is one I look to as a set of values that I believe everyone should share. It is from a pastor during World War II explaining why we should be there for each other in times of need. 

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Now is the time for us to come together against hatred and for peace and love for each other, unconditionally. 

I went to the Jewish vigil a few weeks ago because I wanted to make it clear I would stand with them when they were suffering. 

I was so glad to see my friends, and my Wake Forest family come together as we are suffering.

Thank you. May peace be with you.

Update Nov. 15: This article’s headline has been updated to reflect that it is a letter to the editor.

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  • S

    susan branthonNov 21, 2023 at 9:10 am

    Thank you for this letter: the true Pro-Humanitate is revealed by those who care for ALL humans and who have the courage to speak up for those whose voices are being violently silenced.

  • B

    Brett ChinnNov 9, 2023 at 11:18 am

    Hi, I’m not a student and came across this post via another article on the subject but I wanted to say thank you. I am a Jewish American who appreciates your empathy and perspective. We need voices like yours in this world. I hope you and your loved ones are safe and that the senseless killing will stop soon.