My parents fear for my life.
The recent terrorist attack in New Zealand where at least 50 Muslims were killed while praying has shaken them and the global community at large. The Muslim community is in shock and overcome with waves of grief, as I’ve seen with my own eyes. This is a time for communal healing, mourning, love and support. I found the Solidarity Vigil at the Interfaith Chapel to be helpful in my personal grieving process and I’m grateful such a supportive community exists at our university.
Not all groups responded to this tragedy as respectfully. “Religious Extremism in the Middle East: Meet a Muslim w/ AMYA,” an event organized by the College Republicans, had zero self-awareness or understanding and should have been delayed. 270 petitioners agreed that the event should have been canceled.
While this event was planned in advance and the timing was unfortunate, going ahead with it when so many in the campus community found it offensive and actively hurtful is highly insensitive to Muslim suffering, and directly harms the feeling of communities on campus.
If the intention of the College Republicans really was to be an ally to the Muslim community and fight Islamophobia, they would have listened to all Muslims, not retreat behind one Muslim organization off-campus that they happen to agree with. It’s perfectly understandable that the diverse Muslim community would have different responses to a traumatic event. In the presence of differing preferences, picking a particular side while ignoring the rest is not allyship by any definition. The most important action an ally can do is to listen and be respectful of the community.
Ignoring 270 requests explicitly saying that this event is harmful to them is not being an ally. Telling a community how to grieve is not being an ally. None of this demonstrates good faith by the College Republicans.
The terrorist attack in New Zealand was due to white supremacist ideology, a form of extremism. The terrorist targeted people at their place of worship due to his vile beliefs about Muslims. Responding to this tragedy by hosting an event with a panel featuring Elan Journo — a right-wing author accused of dehumanizing Palestinians — trivializes their suffering and denies their massacre. It doesn’t take an investigative journalist to make the logical connections, only basic empathy. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack by a far-right extremist who dehumanizes Muslims, an event with a title featuring his main complaint (“Religious Extremism in the Middle East”) and a panelist that does not see Muslim lives as equal to others is morally abhorrent to say the least.
The University must remain a welcoming and safe environment for people of all faiths and backgrounds. If protecting that requires us to de-platform an Islamophobic author, or canceling an event due to sensitive timing, we must not shy away from our commitments.