Reports of verbal harassment and threats of violence moved leaders of the Muslim Student Association to arrange an emergency meeting yesterday evening.
Engineering sophomore Irfan Shuttari said the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Tuesday morning had a direct impact on members of the MSA.
“A guy who graduated from the University was a member of MSA,” he said. “He was on the 61st floor of the Trade Center When the second plane hit, he collapsed on the floor from the impact.”
MSA president Asad Tarsin said many members of the organization, since they are Americans but have been associated with these crimes, feel they are dealing with multiple tragedies. “This is doubly charring,” he said. “The type of harassment we”ve received is not from the most rational people.
“We have become a support system for one another. With such a huge tragedy, this is reassuring to a lot of the Muslims,” Tarsin said.
Tarsin said he began feeling campus support beginning at Tuesday night”s vigil. “There was a shift in the mood of the crowd,” he said.
LSA junior Brenda Abdelall, external relations chair of the Arab Student Association, said although many campus groups have shown their support and people are making the distinction between the perpetrators of the crime and Arab-Americans, many Muslim students do not feel comfortable or proud when walking down the street. “As long as that one person is there shouting at us there is still negativity,” she said. “My biggest fear is that if the men who did this turn out to be Arab or Arab-Muslims, the fire will be ignited again.”
Tarsin said the visibility of the head scarves is the main reason why many Muslims women have been targets. At the meeting, some Muslim women briefly debated the significance and benefits of potentially removing the scarves, with its religious and cultural connotations.
Medical sophomore Sarah Mohiuddin said her brother, a student at Troy High School, reported Muslim girls wearing the scarves at school were harassed by fellow students.
“They said “We”re going to kill you and your family,”” Mohiuddin said.
Some Muslim students have chosen to stay at home to study, rather than making the trek to the library. Others have walked around in groups for protection. Abdellal said Muslims have created a sense of group security.
“We feel isolated, but by getting together, we don”t feel so isolated anymore,” Abdellal said.