By Allana Akhtar, For the Daily
Published September 26, 2013
The Sikh Student Association hosted the Speak Up Against Hate forum Thursday night on the Diag to bring together different campus organizations for a discussion on hate crimes.
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The event was inspired by the vigil the organization hosted last year in remembrance of the 2012 Wisconsin shooting in a Sikh gurdwara where six people were killed.
The topic remains relevant to the Sikh community — Saturday, a Sikh professor at Columbia University was brutally attacked while walking home at night.
LSA junior Harleen Kaur, president of the Sikh Student Association, met the professor while interning with the Sikh Coalition in New York City last summer.
“Unfortunately, our society portrays a very negative connotation for someone who has a turban or a long beard,” Kaur said of the incident.
Kaur said the purpose of the forum was to allow students to share their experiences and propose solutions to hate crimes.
Alongside SSA, student organizations including the Muslim Student Association, Hindu Student Council and the South Asian American Network and others helped host the event.
Nine students described their personal experiences dealing with hate and discrimination and conveyed the need for open-discussion forums. Many in attendance expressed the need for different communities to come together and fight injustice.
LSA senior Aliza Hirani, a member of MSA, described the hardships of growing up in post-9/11 Texas as a daughter of undocumented Muslim parents.
“It was a really scary time for me and my family,” Hirani said. “And in those times, you want to revert and talk to your friends, but I didn’t have any because my friends were no longer allowed to talk to me.”
About 25 students attended the event, including LSA junior Angubeen Khan. Khan said she was pleased with the event’s message and moved by the speeches.
“I think that’s one of the great things about these events, that we get to meet people who are going through similar experiences,” she said.
Kaur said the Sikh Student Association hopes to hold more forums with student organizations in the future to continue the dialogue.
“In a perfect world, these hate crimes or acts of violence won’t be occurring as often, but we definitely need to start somewhere — and for me that’s doing events like this.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this article misstated how Harleen Kaur met the Columbia University professor.