Students rally for peace, not hate

A peace rally featuring speakers from various campus organizations as well as Jurassic 5 rapper Akil was held at the Price Center on Thursday at noon.

Tyler Huff
Guardian

The Muslim Student Association organized the “”United For Peace, Not War”” demonstration. Motivation behind the event stemmed from increased racial tensions directed toward Muslims and people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, which have flared recently in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

“”Our most important objective is to educate,”” said MSA President Ahmed Salem. “”People have been associating Islam with terrorism, and that is not right.””

Since the attacks last month, there has been an increase in hate crimes toward Muslims and other ethnic groups, Salem said. The mosque Salem attends, The Islamic Center of San Diego, has been plagued by cherry bomb and paintball attacks. Muslims entering the place of worship are often verbally abused. Salem hopes that Thursday’s event spread feelings of unity and understanding among attendees.

Student speakers in attendance included Salem, Nelly Salom of MSA, Elizabeth Sargent of Intra-Varsity Christian Fellowship, Warren Sophomore Senator Kevin Hsu, Diana Rodriguez of Movimiento Estudantil Chicano de Aztlan, Shantnoy Sethee of Sikh Student Association and Fatiano Padojino of Students for Economic Justice.

Akil, a member of the L.A.-based hip-hop group Jurassic 5 and a practicing Muslim, also offered insight. The rapper insisted that blaming Islam for the attacks must end.

“”Action without knowledge is not action at all,”” Akil said. “”It is ignorance, and that is what blinds us of what knowing a real Muslim is.””

Akil promoted the positive aspects of Islam and pointed out the contributions Muslims have made to society, saying that people of Islamic faith have fought for the United States since the War of 1812.

Muslims, as Sethee pointed out, have not been the only targeted ethnic group since the attacks. Sethee said that many others, including Indian Sikhs, have suffered discrimination because they have been misidentified as Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent.

Hsu said that the A.S. Council had passed a resolution denouncing hate crimes and bigotry on campus. He also emphasized the Council’s wishes in his address.

“”We want to increase diversity and the understanding of diversity,”” Hsu said. “”The only solution is unity, understanding and peace.””

Padojino, an SEJ officer and the last of the student speakers, stressed the problems that will be created by a war, especially for minorities and those of lower socioeconomic status. After commencing her speech, Padojino led the 100-plus crowd in an “”up with unity, down with hate”” chant.

UCSD held vigils Sept. 14 and Oct. 2. Former MSA President Nadia Aziz mentioned that Thursday’s rally was the first forum concerning the disaster that was “”completely student run.”” The previous memorials were sponsored the Office of the Chancellor and the A.S. Council, respectively.

The rally ended with a 30-minute performance by Akil and other rappers, as well as an announcement by the MSA to contact the American Red Cross for monetary and blood donations.

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