WE FEEL SAFE: OREGON MUSLIM STUDENTS

(Photo: On Islam)
(Photo: On Islam)

Paris, 15 Jumadil Awwal 1436/5 March 2015 (MINA) – While several American Muslims have been complaining of increasing threats following Chapel Hill shooting, Muslim students at the University of Oregon (UO) say that they “feel safe” in their multi-cultural campus.

“I just think that the University of Oregon and Northwest culture is a lot more open to different cultures and diversity and customs,” Drew Williams, member of Muslim Student Association (MSA), told Daily Emerald on Tuesday, March 3.

“There’s just a general motif of diversity and openness,” On Islam quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

Williams is one of UO Muslim students who received overwhelming support following Chapel Hill shooting. His professors were among mourners who reached out to him.

A similar support was received by Abdulrhman Aljaafari, president of the Arab Student Union (ASU), who was contacted by domestic students after North Carolina bloody attack. Aljaafari was also offered condolences and support by members of the Alliance of Happy Atheists, who dissociated atheist beliefs from the attack.

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The ASU president hailed UO campus as a respectful and integrated place. “Personally I haven’t faced any discrimination or racist situation except maybe once, from a girl, and I think she was drunk,” Aljaafari said.

Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims. A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.

A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims. Another Economist/YouGov poll found that a large majority of Americans believe that US Muslims are victims of discrimination amid recent attacks against the community.

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Raising Awareness

Despite being tolerant, many of UO students know little about Islam.

Aiming to raise UO students’ awareness about Muslims and their culture, the MSA and ASU co-host events and discussions to break down stereotypes in the campus. “For most Muslim students, they haven’t experienced outright discrimination because I think there’s a heightened sense here that this is a wrong thing to do,” Anita Weiss, department head of international studies, said.

“I think we’re doing a good job of respecting each other on campus.”

With the recent murder of three young Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the burning of an Islamic Center in Houston, Texas, which authorities ruled as arson, and the numerous reports of personal harassment, Muslims feel they are targeted in the States.

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Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23 his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21 and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were found dead at a condominium complex off campus. The gunman, identified by the Independent as 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks, reportedly turned himself into police.

Shocked by the heinous crime, world Muslims mourned the three young American Muslims in North Carolina, pouring into social media to send messages of solidarity to the victims’ families. Twitter users started to employ the hashtag “#MuslimLivesMatter,” to comment on how the mainstream media ignored the news of the murder which did not make national headlines. (T/P011/R04)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)