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Justice for Muslims

| Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dear Muslim Notre Dame Family,

It is with deep sorrow that we reach out to you in shock of the events that occurred at Chapel Hill. The violent taking of the lives of three loving, striving, innocent Muslim students is a disgusting reminder of the hatred towards Islam which we unfortunately see living among us in America.

As black, largely non-Catholic students, we know all too well the stressors of attending a predominantly white, primarily-Catholic institution. As the targets of hurtful backlash at the end of last semester for affirming that our lives matter, we recognize the often anonymously-voiced acrimony toward us, particularly on social media, as just another symptom of the myopic worldview that afflicts many on our campus and throughout the country as a whole. As the murders in Chapel Hill demonstrate, the inability to acknowledge the humanity of marginalized groups, whether racial or religious, can only beget suffering and division. We believe that if we are not part of the solution to this schism in our society, we are part of the problem. We know that the solution is to love one another. Thus, we reach out to you in a spirit of love and support.

To watch members of one’s larger community attacked because of who they are is an extremely painful, often frightening experience. The fact that these students lost their lives on the basis of faith — the way in which they chose to worship God — is outrageous. Due to the unreliable nature of many media outlets, this tragedy can and will be spun in many ways. However, from our perspective, this appears to be an act of terrorism.

Indeed, Islamophobia is a form of bigotry that some consider a form of racism — we see this connection clearly when the terms “Arab” and “Muslim” are conflated and when even non-Muslim Arabs are attacked and discriminated against for their phenotypical appearance. To be sure, these acts of spiritual, emotional and physical violence begin with the corrosive fear and ignorance deep within the souls and minds of the aggressors. All racism does. All discrimination does. Islamophobia is no different in this regard.

We are deeply saddened to see such heinous violence against Muslims occur yet again in our country, let alone on a college campus. We are all students, just like the three young people who were slain. Though all the details are not yet accessible to the public, it is our opinion that this incident falls into the realm of hate crime.

The root of hate is fear. As the opposite of fear is love, we intend to continue to construct a loving community, on Notre Dame’s campus and beyond, to counter the fear and ignorance toward your community, dear Muslim brothers and sisters.

We love you. We appreciate you, and your Notre Dame family is not ignorant of the issues you face. We see you. We bear witness to and condemn bigotry in all its forms and we affirm that your lives are precious.

#JusticeForMuslims is a human right.

Niciah Petrovic
Class of 2015
President of NAACP

Andre Smith
Class of 2015
President of Wabruda

Preston Igwe
Class of 2016
VP of Wabruda
Jas Smith
Class of 2016
President of BSA
Alex Rice
Class of 2016
President of Africana Studies Club
Ihuoma Nwaogwugwu
Class of 2015
President of ASA
Ray’Von Jones
Class of 2016
President of Shades of Ebony

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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