The Muslim Student Association at San Diego State University is demanding that administrators combat Islamophobia by developing a “zero tolerance policy explicitly for Islamophobic speech and actions.”
The demands, modeled after similar ones issued by black student associations at campuses across the nation, were lodged after a female Muslim student was allegedly attacked by a white man in a campus parking lot on the afternoon of Nov. 19, about a week after the Paris terrorist attacks, which killed 130 people.
At SDSU, despite reports that several witnesses stood by and did nothing as the attacker grabbed the woman’s hijab, as well as a police sketch of the alleged attacker, a police investigation could not identify a suspect, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Meanwhile, the female student who said she was attacked has not been identified. But she told Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-San Diego, that her attacker grabber her from “behind,” called her a terrorist, “choked her with the hajib” and told her to “get out of this country,” the Union Tribune reports.
Several comments on the article expressed incredulity over the attack, questioning whether it is a hate-crime hoax.
Yet less than a week after the alleged hate crime, SDSU’s Muslim Student Association held a protest against Islamophobia on campus that attracted hundreds of students.
Yasser Kaziha, a member of the Muslim Student Association, said that he personally knew the victim of the attack, and “when the attack on our Muslim sister happened here at SDSU, she felt alone after bystanders and witnesses who watched the attack did nothing,” he told the Union Tribune.
At the rally, the Muslim Student Association issued its list of demands, which members claim will help prevent future acts of bigotry against the Muslim community.
They demanded that the university adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward “Islamophobic speech,” mandatory bystander training, develop more courses on Islam, and increase funding for The Center for Intercultural Relations. Moreover, they demanded that “the SDSU administration address, alleviate, and eliminate systems of oppression that disproportionately target students of color, womyn, and all marginalized students on campus.”
Beth Chee, a representative for the university, told The College Fix in an email that the university has not issued a formal response to the demands, but members of the administration have reviewed the list and are currently “meeting internally and with the students to discuss their concerns.”
The Muslim Student Association could not be reached for comment.
Elliot Hirsham, president of the university, issued a statement on the attack: “We unequivocally condemn all forms of bigotry and any efforts to intimidate, harm or demean any members of our community.”
But the Muslim Student Association has been criticized by some Jewish peers for rejecting the support of SDSU’s “Students Supporting Israel.”
One of the Muslim Student Association’s demands called on students to “create a more inclusive campus climate by promoting tolerance and acceptance between different cultures and religions.”
Yet the MSA rejected SDSU’s “Students Supporting Israel” support, writes SDSU student Anthony Berteaux, vice president of public relations for Students Supporting Israel, in The Jerusalem Post.
“When asked why SSI was excluded from the statement, the response was simple and damning: ‘It didn’t serve the interests of the community,'” Berteaux wrote. “A rally that was supposed to serve as a unified solidarity march against hate became politicized and divided.”