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MSA and BSU Host Discussion on Islamophobia

This past Monday evening on February 5th, Emmanuel’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Black Student Union (BSU) hosted an intimate discussion involving Islamophobia in the media and society. The discussion included a variety of students who offered personal experiences and viewpoints on the subject. Islamophobia, according to Miriam-Webster dictionary, is the “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against Islam or people who practice Islam.” President of the Black Student Union, Samantha Tingue ’18 moderated the discussion.

Cultural Differences

Considering the topic of Islamophobia can be complex, the discussion began with the generic breakdown of what most people consider when confronted about Islam. “[Most people] think of someone who’s brown. [They] don’t think of a Muslim being Asian” stated Jannet Desvira ’19. There is a stigma of someone who is Muslim that is founded by the misinterpretation from non-Muslims. Gondolina Melhelm ’20 even added, “[People] use Muslim and Arab interchangeably.”

With combined efforts from the BSU, the idea of black Muslims as underrepresented in the Muslim community was acknowledged.

“Black [Muslims] are kind of shafted” claimed Amira Abdelaziz ’19. This is in reference to the lack of representation black Muslims receive in this community. Many African nations are homes to a large number of Muslims.

One dilemma many Muslim people face is profiling. This profiling can be through either racial or based on religious apparel and headscarves, such as a hijab. Although a hijab can be worn for Muslim women, some can choose not to wear it, and as Amira Abdelaziz ’19 clarified, there are multiple forms of apparel that vary based on that person’s level of Islam.

Addressing Islamophobia

Islamophobia is a word that has grown in use substantially in the recent societal landscape. Many have different interpretations of Islam, as well as different interpretations of what it means to be Islamophobic.

“I don’t like how Muslim and extremist should be put together in the same sentence” stated Jannet Desvira ’19. Many often use the term ‘radical islamic terrorism’ in reference to Al-Qaeda, ISIS and other related militant groups. However, many Islamic people would disagree their actions are related to Islam.

“We believe in all prophets, we believe in Jesus…we acknowledge other religions from our own” argued Amira Abdelaziz ’19. “To become Muslim, you have to believe in the Bible…All of these religions believe in peace and preserving human life…to preserve Islam, you can’t kill one another” she also added.

Media Representation

After watching a video from CNN, found below, the attendees reconvened to discuss the video.

The video depicts a CNN moderator (left) and two conservative speakers (in middle) as well as a Muslim author, Arun Kundnani (right). The video was met with immediate distaste for comments and criticism of the primarily conservative mindset behind certain claims of Muslim people.

One argument, in regard to the video, criticized the behavior and rebuttals from Kundnani among many other Muslim contributors in the media. “The guy defending Islam does not know everything about Islam” argued Jerow Hussen ’20. To clarify an argument made by Kundnani in the video, Hussen ’20 also added “ISIS is also killing other muslims…they go into other communities and rape and they kill and say they are Muslim.”

Another argument included the underrepresentation of dedicated Muslims in everyday life. Some notable Muslims, such as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, for example, have been known for their works outside of their religion. Many other Muslims include doctors, lawyers, and other upstanding occupations. However, many feel these individuals are overshadowed by major terrorist groups. “Where are the good stories that happen throughout history” questioned Muslim Student Association President Mishaal Khan ’19.

Interpreting Islamic Culture

After identifying what goes into Islamophobia, the attendees of the discussion concluded with some final comments regarding the Islamophobic view point. Nancy Yarpah ’19 stated, “Its a perpetuation of that belief not the religion itself” in regards to some people’s assumption of violent tendencies by Muslim people, leading to a debate on President Trump’s views on Islam.

The majority of this discussion largely referenced President Donald Trump for his comments regarding Islam and then proposed temporary ban of immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries.

President Trump, after retweeting a video posted by far-right British hate-group seemingly depicting a Muslim immigrant attacking a young Dutch boy on crutches, was met with backlash. Soon after the video was shared, the video was proven a hoax, and was discovered neither individuals involved were Muslim. One notable figure, Prime Minister Theresa May, called out Trump’s retweet, to which he responded swiftly.

Devin Nelson ’19 is the Managing Editor of The Hub. He can be contacted by email at or on Twitter @nellydevin.

Posted by on February 9, 2018. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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