With the soft sounds of jazz playing in the background, 20 members of the Arab Student Association stood in a circle and bowed their heads in a moment of silence — a memorial to Jordan’s King Hussein.
Wednesday in Coffman Union these students paid tribute to a ruler whose peacemaking efforts in the Middle East were renowned. Hussein died Sunday after a seven-month battle with cancer. He was 63 when he died, but he ruled Jordan for almost half a century.
“He did a lot for his people and they really loved him,” said Nael Banat, vice president of the Arab Student Association.
Hussein’s funeral procession Monday in Amman drew thousands of followers, including the heads of state of several foreign nations. Among the leaders present were President Clinton, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, the president of Sudan, Omar al Bashir and Syrian President Hafez Assad.
The monarch was declared brain-dead two days before his death, and although his subjects knew his death was imminent, many prayed for a miracle.
“It is hard to lose someone with such magnitude,” said Anis Khemakhem, a member of ASA.
Hussein received the royal crown at the age of 17. He played a key role negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine and strove to send this message of peace worldwide.
Banat said although Hussein made mistakes during his rule he made up for those mistakes. People should remember him and give him the respect he deserves, Banat said.
At the University, students generally know of Hussein and his peacemaking efforts. However, a few students show apathy, said Sabeen Altaf, the public relations chairwoman of the Arab Student Association. Altaf walked around campus to gather a student response.
“I don’t have much of a stance,” said University sophomore Jon Burkhardt. The lack of information about the King’s actions and biased information from the media make it hard to formulate a response to his death, he added.
But within the Arab community, students are disheartened by Hussein’s death.
“Initially my reaction was sadness,” Khemakhem said. “It’s sad to lose someone who worked so hard to keep the peace process going.”
The association will hold a candlelight vigil and walk around campus this evening at 8:30 as another way to remember the deceased monarch.