After 50 people were gunned down on March 15 during a mass shooting in New Zealand at two mosques, a large crowd of people met at Rhodes College Monday night to honor the slain victims.
The room was packed with 250 or more people as different speakers addressed the shooting that also injured 36 other people in Christchurch.
Dr. Yasir Qadhi, a professor at the school, gave a speech and led a prayer with other fellow members of the Muslim religion. Some people's eyes were filled with tears as Qadhi began talking about the shooting he described as a terrorist act, detailing how the gunman displayed the shooting through a Facebook live stream.
"That video was deleted by Facebook, but you cannot delete social media," said Qadhi to the crowd during his speech. "I must confess, I too, was exposed to snippets of that video in my Facebook feed, but I refused to watch it or download it."
A prayer was held after Qadhi finished speaking. Immediately after, people attending the event were welcomed to eat Arabic-style food that was provided.
Qadhi noted that the event was impromptu being that the shooting happened over the weekend — but was amazed how many people turned out, citing help from the school's Muslim Student Association.
"We are overwhelmed. For a Monday evening, impromptu [event] to get close to 250 people, if anything it shows that we are all grieving together," said Qadhi.
"We might be different in our private rituals and our personal lives, but we are all together and we are all together in humanity and we will not tolerate these voices of hatred or xenophobia."
Mary Thomas, a 19-year-old sophomore at Rhodes College, is one of Qadhi's students. She said she saw this as an opportunity to show support for many of the people she is in contact with at school on a daily basis.
"Coming here, being with them and sharing grief was just the least that I could do," said Thomas. "This is the first step in hopefully creating more community and creating more love in Memphis. And I just wanted to be here to support people who are family to me."
Thomas said it shows a common humanity in the people who came to event, despite different backgrounds or beliefs.
"We all felt hurt by this event ," she said.
About 300,000 videos of the shooting were removed within the first 24 hours of the terrorist attack that Friday and more than 1.2 million videos were blocked before uploading, according to a Facebook spokesman in a USA Today report.
The gunman, 28, was identified as a white male born in Australia after reports said a manifesto of over 70 pages posted to Twitter and Scribd listing white nationalists heroes appeared to belong to him.
The shooting is the worst act of violence to occur in New Zealand in over three decades.