Jackson Heights vigil honors victims of Paris terrorist attacks

THE COURIER/Photos by Marcin Zurawicz

Queens residents gathered at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights on Sunday for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks carried out in Paris on Friday.

The series of attacks killed at least 132 people and injured more than 300, according to published reports. The terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks Saturday morning and most of the killings occurred at a concert hall where the American band Eagles of Death Metal were playing a show.

The vigil was attended by residents, religious leaders and politicians, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood that is home to a large Latino population and Asian enclave, with residents hailing from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Assemblyman Francisco Moya attended the vigil and condemned what he called “mindless brutality.”

“The senseless violence that was perpetrated against the people of Paris is a tragedy for all,” Moya said in a statement. “It was a shot to the heart of free society. In holding a vigil in Diversity Plaza, in Jackson Heights—one of the most ethnically diverse places on the planet — we are choosing to show the world that we won’t let violence stop us from being who we are and that tolerance must succeed over hate.”

Muslim leaders such as Fahad Hussain of the Muslim advocacy group al Muneer Foundation and Imam Ismail from the Islamic Center of Jackson Heights were also present. Ismail led a prayer in Arabic.

State Senator Jose Peralta made a distinction between the terrorists who carried out the attacks and the 2.2 billion people who practice Islam.

“Enough is enough. We stand in solidarity with the French people. We know all too well what it means to be targeted by terrorists’ barbaric attacks,” Peralta said. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of these horrific acts. This has absolutely nothing to do with a peaceful religion like Islam. This is all about acts by cowards and fanatics.”