Foul Actions on Campus that can be fixed with Education
by Robert Revering and Sarah Strubel
Anis Abushagor is a typical student at Anoka Ramsey Community College who loves to play soccer and FIFA, a popular soccer video game, in his spare time. What most people don’t know about Abushagor is that he is a member of the Muslim Student Association. The MSA is an organization on campus that meets every Wednesday at 2 p.m.
The Anoka Ramsey Community College website states, “The MSA provides opportunities designed to enrich the Muslim faith, life and to educate non-Muslims about Islam. The MSA says they’re a nice group of people that treats each other like a family and values education.” During the meetings they plan events and talk about current events. For instance, this spring semester the MSA organized an Islamic Awareness week where they showed a video, held a question and answer forum about Islam and the Muslim community, and took pictures of anybody that wanted to try on a hijab or headscarf in the student lounge. Abushagor and the members of MSA understand that running into encounters of hate among students on campus is a possibility, since the media tends to magnify the actions of violent extremists in the Middle East who use religion to justify their destructive behavior. According to the New York Times, In the Chapel Hill Shooting of 3 Muslims, a Question of motive by Jonathan M. Katz and Richard Perez-Pina reported that that a possible hate crime on a college campus occurred when 3 students of Arab decent were shot and killed at the University of North Carolina. The victims’ families described it as a hate crime, however the police say that the shooting appeared to be motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute. Whether or not this these students were targeted because of religion is unknown, yet hostility against Muslims could be present at the University of North Carolina and also at Anoka Ramsey Community College campus.
Abushagor says there are a lot of closet racists, who might have hate for Muslims.
“I actually invite those people to speak to me, and I want them to speak to me so I can answer their questions. But to be honest I’m not going to try to play the victim card.”
Although there has been no signs of hate crimes being committed on campus the MSA knows negative feelings toward Muslims on campus exists. One example is that some Muslim students have experienced hearing snide comments being directed at them while in the hallways. One anonymous Muslim said she was in front of one of the mirrors in the bathroom next to a non-Muslim that was taking pictures of herself when the woman told her to “Move your Muslim ass out of my picture… It happened in this school.” A Muslim experienced some form of hate on campus.
Despite that student’s experience several Muslim students report the school being largely open to Muslims and they feel accepted at the school.
Abrushagor adds that he “likes how the college accommodates with a prayer room” at Anoka Ramsey.
The large community of Muslims this school has seems to help them feel more included overall, especially because many of them hang out together in the Mosaic Center. Education that reverses ill-informed perceptions of Islam is one of the things that Muslims on campus try to spread.
The MSA also likes to educate students on campus about Muslims and debunk some the misconceptions of Muslims. One misconception of Muslims is that their religion oppresses woman. However only certain countries and cultures oppress woman that are not specific to Islam. One common example that reinforces the belief that Muslims oppress woman is the law in Saudi Arabia that says that woman cannot drive. Abrushagor clarified that this particular law is not a fair representation of the Muslim Community and should not be associated with Muslims.
” Some people need to learn how to differentiate between cultures and between religions,” said Abrushagor
Another example that a non-Muslims bring up regarding the idea that women are oppressed in Islam is that woman are forced to cover their heads with head scarfs. Abrushagar and the Muslim woman explained that the head scarfs are not forced by their religion. The idea behind the head scarf is to value inner beauty and the act of wearing one is by no means a requirement for Muslim women.
“It’s like a symbol of modesty,” said one Muslim woman. Some non-Mulims do not understand the head scarfs in this way and should always ask before making judgments or jumping to conclusions. The MSA and Abrushagor both feel strongly that education is the key to guiding non-Muslims to a more accurate perception of the Islam faith.