(Photo: U.Va. faculty members Sundus Razzaq, left, and Frank Dukes, right, are the authors of a petition supporting the Muslim community. Photo, The Daily Progress)
(Photo: U.Va. faculty members Sundus Razzaq, left, and Frank Dukes, right, are the authors of a petition supporting the Muslim community. Photo, The Daily Progress)

Charlottesville, 11 Rabi’ul Awwal 1437/22 December 2015 (MINA) –Hundreds of people have signed a petition expressing support for the Muslim community at the University of Virginia (U.Va) in the wake of suggestions from politicians that Muslims, regardless of nationality or citizenship status, should be nationally registered in the name of public safety, The Richmond Times-Dispatch (RTD) online news reported.

Organized by two U.Va. Faculty members, Frank Dukes and John Alexander, the petition started to circulate earlier this month. By the end of last week, nearly 1,000 people had signed it.

The petition states, “We, members of the staff and faculty of the University of Virginia, affirm our support and love for our Muslim students, colleagues and friends, along with their families and communities, International Islamic News Agency (IINA) quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

For centuries, Muslim scholars have been creators and leaders in the sciences, medicine, law, politics, architecture, commerce, arts and humanities.

We embrace your continuing presence here, We welcome, without regard to origin or faith, all who wish to join our community.”

Dukes, who is director of the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at U.Va., said he had spent much of the past few months fretting over the rise of anti-Islamic rhetoric in the nation’s political realm and media.

“I was asking myself, ‘How do we show support and counter this antagonism?’ ” he said, explaining how he and others came to draft the petition. “I sent it to colleagues who are interested in issues of social justice and human rights,” including Alexander, associate director of Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives at U.Va.

Shortly after the petition was made public, the university’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) released a statement thanking those who have signed it and for the community’s support.

“The Muslim student body has always felt like an integral part of the university, and although we find ourselves in difficult situations combating prejudices and ignorance that are becoming all too common, it is because of individuals like you that we are able to reaffirm that we are all truly part of one family that can unite against any forms of hatred,” the statement said.

“It is so crucial that we only continue to strengthen our community through support for one another, and not allow such hateful rhetoric to divide us. When we, as a nation, allow one group’s rights and liberties to be so openly violated, it begins to threaten the security and freedom of all.”

“The majority of people agree with this, but oftentimes you hear the inflammatory statements more often because they’re the most outrageous,” Dukes said. “Hearing from Muslim students and colleagues who say this is meaningful to them has been heartening.”

Sundus Razzaq, a 3rd-year student who is vice president of the MSA and a first-generation Pakistani-American, said she initially was surprised that faculty members would put together a petition to support the Muslim community.

“If anything, people stop us and ask how we’re doing and tell us they don’t share those anti-Islamic sentiments,” she said.

“I don’t know if that’d be happening if there wasn’t the rise in anti-Islamic rhetoric,” she said, adding that the support has been comforting to her and her Muslim peers.

Its noteworthy that, The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church-Unitarian Universalist on Wednesday will host an interfaith rally to show solidarity with the Muslim community. (T/Imt/R03)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)