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The Daily Tar Heel

Remembering students with a day of light

Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha will be remembered today at 1:15 p.m. during a special ceremony held in the UNC School of Dentistry, where Barakat was a student and his wife Yusor Abu-Salha had been admitted. Space is limited, so the event will be available to stream on

Tiffany Brannan, spokesperson for the UNC School of Dentistry, said the ceremony will include remarks from a classmate of Barakat’s and from family members.

“We’re focusing on celebrating their lives and who they were,” Brannan said.

Sara Khan, spokesperson for UNC’s Muslim Students Association, said it’s important to try to honor the family’s wishes not to call this week an “anniversary.” They do not want to focus so much on how the students died but rather on how they lived, she said.

Khan said it’s important to look to the future in this time of remembrance.

The Light House Project — a nonprofit organization started by Farris Barakat, Deah Barakat’s brother — launched the campaign #ForwardWithFaith to use the month of February to begin a movement that embodies values of dignity, unity and resilience.

At 6 p.m., NCSU and the Light House Project will be hosting the “Our Three Winners Memorial: A Day of Light” on the Stafford Commons on NCSU’s campus.

The memorial will include a call to prayer, a candlelight remembrance and remarks from guest speakers including NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson and UNC Chancellor Carol Folt.

Mahmoud Tohmaz, president of NCSU’s Muslim Students Association, said he wants people to know Muslims are no different from any other Americans.

“We do have a lot of events planned this month to just go against that narrative that media has against them,” Tohmaz said.

Tohmaz said the memorial will give everyone a chance to remember the “three winners,” but it will also ensure everyone is moving forward.

Khan said the loss of the three individuals was a collective experience for students at NCSU, UNC and many other people — even around the world. She said people should reflect on that as they remember their legacies this week.

“I feel like healing after a year is very important, coming together as a community is very important — but also understanding what we should do to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again to another person’s community,” Khan said.

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