Ignoring All the Signs

While it’s not out of the ordinary for the MSA to receive threatening messages, Islamic Awareness Week incited new waves of anti-Muslim sentiment, including threatening e-mails and phone calls to the members of the MSA.
Additionally, six evangelical Christians  — an increase from the usual “Jesus guy” — picketed Library Walk and, according to the Treasurer of MSA Sharfaa Junaid, the protesters also approached students looking at the MSA’s event, telling them that they were “going to go to Hell” for speaking with “those people.”
When a Guardian reporter asked one of the self-identified evangelicals — who demanded anonymity — whether or not he was affiliated and if he had a permit to protest, he announced that they were neither UCSD affiliates nor did they need a permit from the administration to demonstrate. (Under the UC-wide Non-Affiliate Speech Policy, persons not affiliated with the university must receive permission from a designated official to demonstrate on campus.)
According to MSA Vice President External Eyad Alnaslah, the vandalism featured uncreative, malicious phrases such as “Fuck Muslims” and “You are terrorists and blood killers.” MSA members, including Alnaslah, reported the threats. As a result, the Student Center for Involvement assigned them a security guard during their exhibits on Library Walk.
Junaid said that because the center wasn’t sure how UCSD’s Free Speech Policy applied to the evangelicals, they weren’t able to do much more than talk to the protesters and assign security guards, despite the MSA’s complaints to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, the Center for Student Involvement and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue.
Aside from filing a complaint with the Center for Involvement, MSA representatives met with Rue on Feb. 17 to discuss the recent incidents and asked for a campuswide e-mail to be sent out condemning the act. Penny Rue refused, claiming it is no longer protocol.
So, according MSA VP of Internal Affairs, Saad Yazdani, their protesting stops with the Vice Chancellor: “we hoped the Vice Chancellor would have helped us more.”
But when hate crimes like these occur, everyone should defend the right to be an individual and practice whatever religion he or she chooses.
The administration is obligated to make sure every group feels safe and look out for every group that attracts hate, not just those that attract the least favorable media coverage.Sending out an e-mail to the student body about the attacks would at least inform everyone what’s happening and legitimize the struggles of the MSA.
Racism toward the Muslim community has increased tenfold in the decade following the 9/11 attacks and is a far bigger issue than our campus. The irony is that the MSA events were intended to inform students of what the 3-6 million Muslims living in the United States actually believe, which is pretty much the opposite of what the vandalism suggests.
As university students, we are here to learn. If the same hate messages the members of the MSA received were targeted at nearly any other group, that group would be viewed as minority-opinion radicals — but because they were targeted at a religion that still holds so many violent stereotypes to so many people, few outside of the group are willing to stand up and protest against it.
It’s our collective responsibility to recognize and ameliorate hate on campus, no matter what form it takes. Last year, during the ‘Compton Cookout’ fiasco, the Black Student Union was able to rally enough support to bring faculty members, administration and media attention to their cause.
The scale of the attacks on the MSA is admittedly much smaller than those suffered by the BSU. But without the kind of administrative support that group garnered in the heat of the controversy last year, the MSA’s efforts at correcting popular misconceptions may all be for naught.

Readers can contact Madeline Mann at [email protected].

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