Organised by the students of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar Foundation’s branch campuses, and Qatar University, the walk was held in honour of the three American Muslim students – Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha – who were killed last week near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Qatar Solidarity Walk was a demonstration of participants’ common belief in the principle that education and not hatred must be the shared goal of all of us. Marchers also called on all nations to keep students around the world safe and recognise that the talents of young men and women in education constitute our future.
The solidarity walk’s route was specifically chosen to pass by the branch campuses in a symbolic gesture of fellow feeling and brotherhood to reflect the associations that all students have with their universities.
Thousands of people of all ages and nationalities attended, and students had the largest presence as young men and women from HBKU, the branch campuses, Qatar University and other academic institutions in Qatar walked side by side.
The walk started outside the HBKU Student Centre and followed a route through Education City that finished at the Ceremonial Court where the participants stood together to watch a specially commissioned film with touching words by family members of the victims.
Faris Barakat, the brother of Deah, moved the crowd as he said:
It is amazing that Qatar is thinking about us and our family. We want to spread the message that love overcomes hate. It is our responsibility as the youth and the citizens of this world to fight ignorance and to come together with Americans, with Qatari’s and with everyone as, after all, Earth is not that big of a place.’
Deah’s sister Suzanne also spoke about the shootings and told of the impact it has had on her life:
I think that at the end of the day, people realise that we are all the same regardless of where we come from, who we are, what we do and what we believe in.’
Following the broadcast, local students spoke to the gathered crowd about the importance of overcoming extremism and violence, and called for the protection of students around the world.
Abdulaziz Al Tamimi, a student at HEC Paris University in Qatar, called for reconciliation and for an end to extremism by saying:
We are gathered here to show solidarity with the Qatar Foundation community, the families of the victims and people all around the world. We invite them to embrace peace and reconciliation, rejecting violence and extremism. The time has come for us all to unite and to build societies that are founded on love, respect, understanding and compassion for others everywhere.
The Chapel Hill killings have affected people worldwide and donations from Qatari and international community members have boosted the charity fund established by Deah Barakat. People are encouraged to donate to this good cause here.
HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice-Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), participated in the student-led solidarity walk in commemoration of the Chapel Hill victims at Qatar Foundation.
The American ambassador, HE Dana Shell Smith, attended with a number of other foreign dignitaries. Senior officials from QF also took part including Saad Al Muhannadi, President of Qatar Foundation, Fahad Saad Al Qahtani, Group Executive Director of QF Administration, and Jassim Telefat, Group Executive Director of Qatar Foundation Capital Projects and Facilities.