By Suni Jo Roberts
A wave of reported hate crimes in the United States has members of the Student Muslim Association at Washtenaw Community College reflecting on the larger supporitve community they see around them.
Post-election, people have been asking what they can do to help targeted groups. Sakinah Rahman doesn’t have to ask what can be done to help targeted groups, she says she was born to stand up for injustice.
“Yes, let me tell you — born advocate,” said Rahman. “I am an advocate for Islam, I’m an advocate for any injustice: for the LGBT+ community, Latinos and any injustices happening to anyone.”
“Last week we had a woman and her children standing by our mosque saying ‘I’m supporting my Muslim neighbors,’” said Said Aljazaeri, a biology major and Vice President of the Muslim Student Association at Washtenaw Community College.
This comment came from Aljazaeri while at a recent event where students were invited to walk around different tables with different MSA members explaining hijabs, foods eaten by Muslims, Hajj (the holy pilgrimage) and prayer.
Aljazaeri noted news reports of anti-Muslim hate speech and threats against religious, ethnic and other minorities. But stories like this did not deter Aljazaeri on speaking about the support he feels from the community.
“That is a minority,” said Aljazaeri. “We have a lot of supporting community members.” He also pointed out the email sent to the campus community at the University of Michigan by President Mark Schlissel which stated that he hopes we can all agree that we can not stand silent in the face of discrimination.
Other MSA members also shared Aljazaeri’s view of a supportive community.
“I do believe our community is supportive but I believe our community is exposed,” said Rahman, part-time WCC student, part-time high school student and social-media officer in the MSA.
Ann Arbor recorded a 17.9 percent foreign born population in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“There are other places in this country that are not exposed to Islam or Muslims in general and so they are easily influenced by the bad stigmas or the negative connotations put on Islam,” Rahman said.
During the Winter 2017 semester MSA holds weekly meetings, where anyone is welcome, every Monday from 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. in LA 272.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove a reference to a specific reported anti-Muslim threat. The report was found to be false, though many hundreds have stood up to scrutiny.