BYU students and Jordanian community unite in prayer for pilot

Members of the BYU, Christian, Muslim and Jordan community meet in the Wilkinson Student Center to continue their vigil in memory of the Jordanian pilot killed by ISIS. (Luca Cuestas)
Members of the BYU, Jordanian and Arab community gather in the Wilkinson Student Center to continue their vigil in memory of the Jordanian pilot killed by ISIS. (Luca Cuestas)

BYU students and members of the Jordanian and Arab community gathered Saturday, Feb. 7, to commemorate the life of the Jordanian pilot recently executed by terrorist group ISIS.

The vigil consisted of both Christian and Muslim prayers, and those who attended expressed personal feelings and strong hope for a more united Jordan and a more aware community abroad.

Ali Khamis, 39, a BYU law student from Amman, Jordan, led the vigil on campus.

“I disagree with the way they (ISIS) are calling themselves,” Khamis said. “They cannot represent me as a Muslim. Most Muslims are peaceful people, and (ISIS) is using their faith to distort reality and justify their actions.”

Muath Safi Muath Al-Kasaesbeh, 26, was a Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot. He was captured by ISIS when his F-16 Fighter aircraft crashed in Syria.

After negotiations between ISIS and the government of Jordan failed, ISIS burned Al-Kasaesbeh alive and released a video of his death via a Twitter account used for ISIS propaganda.

The BYU students’ vigil began with a prayer known in Islam as a prayer for the dead. Khamis said, “In Islam, whenever there is a dead person, we must pray for him and his family.”

Members of the vigil that were not of the Islamic faith respectfully watched. The vigil then proceeded with a Christian prayer, asking for God to watch over the family of the martyred. Khamis closed the vigil by stating that the people united this day did not come as Christians, Muslims and faiths of other religions but as humans with a care for humanity.

“There is a good part to every sad story,” Khamis said. “While the news was terrible, it had made for a stronger, more united Jordan. We are ready to take action together.”

Gary Crofts, a senior from Pleasant Grove majoring in Near Eastern studies and Arabic, attended the vigil because of his interest in the region.

“For many Jordanians, you can compare this to a type of 9/11 experience where terrorism is hitting them on their home turf,” Crofts said. “I think it’s important that the Jordanians and Arabs feel our support and sympathy. We know how it feels.”

Members of the vigil said services like these will continue to be held for other members of the Jordanian and Arab community that may have to sacrifice their lives for the safety and eventual peace of their people. Jordan officially began retaliation through airstrikes and bombings coupled with American support Wednesday, Feb. 4.


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