It’s not often that you hear of people coming together, especially after recent events that tend to be demonizing Muslims. However, in staunch defiance against the rise of Islamophobia is the States, students from the University of Michigan rose up to do just that.
After hearing that a student wearing a hijab was threatened with being set on fire with a lighter if she didn’t remove her hijab, two hundred members of the students and faculty at the university stood to guard Muslims in prayer. The Muslim Student Association gathered in the main square to pray Ishaa’, one of the five prayers that are obligatory upon all Muslims, while their non-Muslim peers stood guard around them.
In an interview, the MSA’s president, Farhan Ali explained how “some individuals were afraid we might be vulnerable during our prayer, so we had the idea of calling allies to support us.” That’s exactly what happened, and to say the least, no one expected such a great turnout and support from staff and students alike.
“Hundreds and hundreds of people came out for both prayer and showing their support. The amount of support was overwhelming and absolutely wonderful, and it brought some ease to the Muslim students [and] showed that we have other individuals who are willing to stand with us.”
The responses from this have been widely encouraging and heart warming, with more people who were not present expressing their own solidarity. Their comments give hope for those around the country who are experiencing similar, or even greater crimes after the emboldening of certain members of the country after Trump winning the elections.
University President Mark Schlissel and other administrators sent out an email on Sunday night condemning incidents of intimidation and calling for unity on campus across political ideologies. Schlissel writes that he hopes “all members of our community can agree that we must not stand silent while facing expressions of bigotry, discrimination or hate that have become part of our national political discourse,” and that’s exactly what happened with the stand of solidarity of the staff and students. However, this isn’t a first as on November 9th, a day after the announcement of Donald Trump winning the elections, almost 1000 students joined in the square in a peaceful protest against it.
However, even with this, there have been reports of other students finding swastikas and hateful messages on the door of their apartments, and another student being verbally harassed before being pushed down a hill. Though progress may seem slow, this stand shows an America that isn’t scared to stand together in the face of discrimination. While the world continues to watch with bated breath to see what the next wave of attacks will bring, it is these moments of solidarity that make a difference and give us hope in a collective humanity against racism, bigotry and xenophobia.