Why Student’s Movement Must be Supported!

Hundreds of activists gather for encampment on the Diag on University of Michigan’s campus calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, on April 24, 2024 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. (Photo: Anadolu Agency)

By Shamsi Ali Al-Kajangi, President of Nusantara Foundation, New York 

Talking about supporting students movement on campuses around the nation, and around the globe, has nothing to to with only religion or politics. It’s all about human values: dignity, freedom and justice.

Islam is a religion that honors human dignity, freedom and justice. These are certainly God’s guarantee and He granted those to all children of Adam. The holy Qur’an said: “certainly We have honored the children of Adam”.

Freedom is an important element of human rights. It is is granted and guaranteed by Allah Himself. In fact, our basic Islamic tenet “laa ilaaha illa Allah” is believed to be the foundation of freedom. Believing in the “Oneness of Allah” (tauheed) means freeing ourselves from any enslavement or domination but Allah, the Lord of all mankind.

Another important element of human rights is justice. Justice is a basic human tendency. In other words, every human being wants to be treated with justice. Justice is considered a main pillar that brings stability to humans life. Without justice, human life will be shaken (see Ar-Rahman: 7-9).

Moreover, in Islam justice is considered a universal human value that can not be undermined. It’s a core of righteousness or piety (taqwa). Allah says: “be just! That is closer to piety”.

Islam teaches us to uphold and practice justice even when it is against our own or family’s interest.

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In the last several days we have been witnessing waves of demonstrations in the United States of America, in fact all over the world in support of respect for human rights, dignity, and justice. Most notably these days in US university campuses, students are raising their voice to support our Palestinian Brothers and Sisters’ basic rights.

American Muslims as an integral part of this nation are certainly proud of the fact that the ideal principle and value of this country is respect of human dignity, freedom and justice for all. A value we do not only cherish, but have taken the responsibility to campaign and promote it to others around the globe.

For the above very reason we support and defend the rights of all Americans to exercise their freedom of speech and expression. Those demonstrations we are witnessing around the nation represent the very fundamental values of America. While not everyone may agree with the students who are protesting, it is a very fundamental and basic right in the United States to express oneself and protest. It’s guaranteed and protected by the US Constitution.

For American Muslims, defending the students’ rights to demonstrating their basic right to freedom of speech and expression is both based on religious belief (Islam) and of American values and the Constitution. We support and cherish the courage of those students not necessarily because they are Muslims. In fact, the majority of those who are taking part in the demonstrations are non Muslim fellows.

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We reject and condemn the efforts which are being undertaken by the university administrations to silence pro-Palestinian voices on campuses and the force used against these students and faculty. This goes against the American values and constitution and certainly is reprehensible.

We also condemn colleges and universities, such as Columbia, Yale, NYU, University of Minnesota, amongst others, who call on law enforcement and riot police to carry out arrests against peaceful protesters, the suspension and disproportionate disciplinary actions against students, and the stripping away of the rights of students, including access to housing, belongings, food, and campus services.

As students across various campuses mobilize and demand their universities to condemn the genocide of Palestinians and to divest from Israel, they face unprecedented attacks against their fundamental rights to free speech and expression, and the right to assembly.

We commend people from all walks of life, including students of all races and faiths, who are on this path of justice for Palestine. We re-affirm our collective solidarity and commitment to the Palestinian people in their struggle for dignity, justice, freedom and self-determination and the end to the current genocide and violence they face.

Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us: “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

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Over 75 years of illegal occupation and 200 days of Israeli war crimes, genocide and gross violations of human rights resulting in the murder of over 35,000 Palestinians, including 14,778 children, the U.S. government continues to arm Israel with billions of dollars that further contributes to the slaughter and oppression of the Palestinian people.

On April 22, 2024, mass graves were discovered in Gaza with over 300 dead bodies, some with their hands tied behind their backs and some with decapitated heads (including children). The brutality of the Israeli army knows no bounds.

Therefore, we call upon all governments and non governmental institutions (including universities), and individuals to stand firm to the side of justice, freedom and human lives and dignity. And that includes the rights for our Palestinian Brothers and Sisters to freedom and self determination. It is time to stop double standard and hypocrisy. Human rights; dignity, freedom and justice are meant for all and not intended for some or certain people only.

Let us affirm and be honest to our value of “justice for all…”! (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)