#OurThreeBoys commemorates three Sudanese-American victims

Tufts community members read and write messages in memory of the three black men killed in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Feb. 28. Alex Knapp / The Tufts Daily

Tufts students gathered in Hotung Café on Friday to commemorate the lives of three Sudanese-American men who were murdered in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Feb. 24 — 23-year old Mohamedtaha Omar, 20-year old Adam Kamel Mekki and 17-year old Muhannad Adam Tairab.

The purpose of the event, titled “Our Three Boys – Day of Remembrance,” was to “start having conversations about the intersections between racism and Islamophobia” following these murders, according to the Facebook event.

According to a Feb. 28 article in the Washington Post, the three men were from a predominately Muslim community and were killed “execution-style.” The article also quoted Rusty York, Fort Wayne’s public safety director, who told WPTA-TV that there is “no reason to believe this was any type of hate crime or focused because of their religion or their nationality whatsoever.” Referencing this quote, Friday’s “Our Three Boys” event intended to amplify #OurThreeBoys and their stories, according to the event description.

At the event, attendees were invited to write down their thoughts, prayers and messages of love on Post-it Notes to place on a poster board. Examples of messages include, “I hope that someday we can live in a world with justice…,” “Words like ‘unjust’ do not even begin to cover it. You will not be forgotten. Rest in Peace. Rest in Power. Rest Easy” and “I pray for Justice and that Peace and Love is Restored.”

First-years Ayotola Onipede and Muna Mohamed then spoke about the murders in Indiana, noting that all three men were American and black, two of them were Muslim and one was Christian. They continued to read aloud a statement commemorating the lives of the three men.

“Let us remember that all black lives matter, and you being here truly shows that,” Mohamed said.

Muslim Chaplain Celene Ibrahim then gave an address to attendees.

“We can not stay in despair because staying in despair leads to inaction,” Ibrahim said. “But we can’t be overly hopeful… There’s a middle ground somewhere.”

After that, junior Karynne Campbell spoke as a member of the black student community on campus.

“Our community as well as the American population has failed to recognize the intersectionality of racism due to skin color and racism due to beliefs,” Campbell said.

Campbell was followed by Nazifa Sarawat, a Muslim Student’s Association board member, who shared her thoughts as a member of the Tufts Muslim community.

2016-03-04-Medford/Somerville-Tufts University-Hotung Cafe-Nazifa Sarawat speaks as a member of the Tufts Muslim Student Association about the killing in Indiana (Alex Knapp / The Tufts Daily). (Alex Knapp)

“It’s a beautiful thing. But it can be so ugly. And that ugliness can be anywhere,” Nazifa Sarawat said during the #OurThreeBoys remembrance event on March 4. (Alex Knapp / The Tufts Daily)

“It’s a beautiful thing. But it can be so ugly. And that ugliness can be anywhere,” Sarawat, a junior, said of being a Muslim in America.

Senior David Asamoah-Duodu then recited a Christian prayer to remember one of the Sudanese-American victims, who was Christian.

Before the event’s conclusion, sophomore Rebecca Antwi presented a spoken word poem.

“We cannot raise the dead,” Antwi said. “Only give them some respect… so until then, there should be an outcry.”

The event concluded with closing remarks from Joanah Sylla and Sara Arman.

“[Just] because the person sitting next to you may not have the same skin or face as you, doesn’t mean that they should be anything less than the person you hold closest to you,” Sylla, a first-year, said.

Arman, also a first-year, encouraged people to sign a petition asking that the death of these three men not be considered gang violence by default because none of the men were associated with any gangs.