International terrorism impacts St. Olaf students

The Friday, Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris shocked the world, and the effects of the tragedy were felt on the St. Olaf campus. The series of coordinated terrorist attacks, which included suicide bombings and mass shootings, killed 129 people and injured 352.

“Those are places that my family, my friends or myself could have been in at any time. We live in the suburb, about seven miles away from the districts that were affected by these attacks,” said French international student Amadou Gueye ’18.

Gueye heard about the attacks when he received an alert on his phone. As the reported death count rose, he contacted his family and was relieved to learn that they were all safe. The timing of the news was particularly difficult, as Gueye, a member of the soccer team, was competing in the playoff game against Macalester College.

“I heard about what happened in Paris about two or three hours prior to kickoff. This is usually the time when I get mentally ready for the contest and the news really altered my mental preparation. I was really shaken up, I wasn’t able to focus on the game. I was feeling nervous, shaky and I couldn’t tell if it was because of the game or because of what was going on back home,” said Gueye. He ended up assisting the winning goal in the game.

“I was happy I was able to play these two games. There is nothing like playing – and winning at – the game I love to boost my morals during such difficult times,” said Gueye.

Although he isn’t from France, Essam Bubaker ’18 was also deeply affected by the news of the attacks. Bubaker is the leader of the St. Olaf Muslim House, which strives to raise awareness about Islam and reduce religious stigmas. The college pastors asked him to speak at the candlelight vigil that was held Saturday night in honor of the victims.

“I have been approached by many people asking me as a Muslim what do I think of what happened,” Bubaker said.

Bubaker condemned the behavior of the attackers and stressed that that they do not represent in any way the majority of Muslims.

“This is going to be another challenge for me as a Muslim student, and as a Muslim House member, who is going to have an even bigger role to educate students here on campus about worldwide events related to Islam,” Bubaker said.

According to Bubaker, the Muslim House is collaborating with the Political Awareness Committee to plan an event discussing how “these attacks have no religion, and how can they be prevented in the future by using both strength and education as a force to educate people about such incidents.”

Saturday’s candelight vigil was organized by the college pastors, SGA president John Bruer ’16 and vice-president William Seabrook ’16 and the Muslim Student Organization.

“It is an honor to be a part of such a thoughtful college community,” College Pastor Matt Marohl said. “We are all in this together. We will celebrate together and we will grieve together.”