Muslim Student Association wants to education on real meaning of Islam


Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter

On Nov. 13, there were a series of terror attacks which took place across the world. While there were bombings in Beirut, Baghdad and an assault in Kenya, the world looked onto the devastating attack in Paris. On Nov. 13 in Paris, France were a number of attacks which included the bombing of a football stadium and an assault on an open-air concert.  In the days following these attacks, the party who claimed responsibility was ISIS (Islamic State of Syria).

Since then, not only has there been growing antagonism and action against ISIS, but France has already been taking measures to strike back: the first major assault being an air bombing of Raqqa in Syria. The growing anger towards ISIS was also demonstrated by France’s president during a memorial service where he swore to stamp out ISIS.

“To all of you, I solemnly promise that France will do everything to destroy the army of fanatics that committed these crimes,” said President François Hollande during the memorial.

On Monday, Nov. 23, the Muslim Student Association on campus held a social in Engleman Hall. However, as described by president and senior Asma Abdelati, the social was not planned to be a response to the events in Paris.

“We had this social scheduled for a while now,” Abdelati said. “We wanted to just introduce ourselves to the student body, and just hold a forum where people could meet and talk. However, with everything going on right now, this seemed the right time to bring up recent events and how they affect us in our homes and even on campus.”

On the home front however, right here on Southern’s own campus, the feelings have been mixed, and there have been incidents where Muslim students have been the target of anger. According to Abdelati, a girl was verbally harassed in Buley Library due to her religious affiliation.

“I was contacted by a girl I know who told me about this girl getting harassed in the library,” Abdelati said. “A Muslim student was harassed by a guy in the library and he was saying awful things to her, but apparently no one tried to stop it. What we need students to do now, especially with everything that happened in Paris, is to speak out against wrongs like this.”

That was the biggest motion that the MSA [Muslim Student’s Association] made in regards to how students, either upset or concerned, should handle things: open up a dialog. The social itself was set up in order to “meet and greet the Muslim students, learn about the MSA on campus and the meaning of Islam.”

During the social were two guest speakers, both of whom not only addressed the ideals and practices of Islam, but also related them to the current events going on with ISIS and the conflicts they have begun.

One speaker, Imam Hussein, spoke largely on the differentiating between true Muslims and those members of ISIS.

“Islam is not a religion of violence,” said Hussein. “The members of ISIS do not heed the teachings of Allah in how they act. And not to mention that not all Muslims are associated with them, or even can know people associated with them. The members of ISIS are such a minute number of Muslims that it is wrong to associate Muslims as a whole with their terror.”

By the end of the social, students shared their own stories and experiences of either witnessing their friends or other students be subjected to prejudice, but also sharing their own thoughts. The MSA and Abdelati offered their services to students.

“We are here for any Muslim students who are facing troubles or feel unsafe on campus. At the same time though, we must ask students to speak up when they hear about this, and learn more,” Abdelati said. “Learning and just talking to us about our faith and beliefs, knowing us as people is the next step to ending this anger and hate.”

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