Syracuse University students and staff gathered to remember a grad student who was killed while trying to make a difference in his homeland. Bassel Al Shahade was a native of Syria and was killed there last month while working as a citizen journalist. A memorial service was held at SU Monday. Our Katie Gibas spoke with friends about Al Shahade and what his life and death meant for the Syrian cause.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Bassel Al Shahade loved life, but he loved Syria more. After just one semester at Syracuse University, he left his Fullbright scholarship to return to his homeland to help secure basic rights for his people.
"His heart was there. He had to go back, help, try to help people and he is a filmmaker, so documenting what was happening would be the most important part of his work," said Lana Meiqari, a friend of Al Shahade.
"Many of us tried to tell him in the beginning not to go and that's crazy. But then we realized that is how he wanted to live and probably how he wanted to die as well," said Mireille Bakhos, the Remembrance Vigil Organizer and a friend of Al Shahade.
And that's how he did die. He was filming the attacks by government security forces against the Syrian people when he was killed.
"Those people are trying to have the basic human rights and dignity and the right to say what they think and what they believe in. And I think that is what Bassel died for," said Bakhos.
Monday, Syracuse University students and staff who knew Al Shahade held a remembrance service. They lit candles and carried photos of him as they prayed for a more peaceful world.
"There are lots of people who are trying to do the best just to have a different and better life and to make sure that the people who died until now is this year and a half didn't die for nothing," said Meiqari.
Bakhos added, "Seeing this young man leaving everything and going there and fighting for his right and the right of his people is a big inspiration for many, many people, especially that he died for the truth to show people what was happening there. So not only in his life was he trying to help Syria. Bassel helped Syria even in his death."
A formal memorial service by Syracuse University is planned for the fall.