The Muslim Student Association (MSA) reacted to a “Punish a Muslim Day” leaflet that had been circulated with a question and answer session on Tuesday. The meeting concerned “misunderstandings of Islam,” according to MSA member Fahim Ibrahim, an eighth-semester mechanical engineering major.
The leaflets, which detailed a point-based system for inflicting various harms to Muslims, circulated around British cities with large Muslim populations in March, according to the Washington Post. The online image of the leaflet spread across social media shortly thereafter, crossing over into the United States.
Rising hate crime statistics and heightened xenophobic tensions in the U.K. made the letters a source of great distress to the Muslim community, according to the Washington Post.
Members of the MSA held their Q&A session to try and bridge the gap with non-Muslims to prevent bigotry and to promote understanding of Islam as a religion. The greatest misconception about Islam, according to Saleh, originates from the violence associated with Islamic extremists.
“(There’s a belief) that Muslims are here in the West to kill people and impose Sharia law,” Saleh said. “We’re really not.”
Ibrahim agreed, saying Islam is often misunderstood for its message, which promotes peace first and foremost.
“We’re no different from any of the other Biblical or Judaic faiths,” Ibrahim said.
Saleh said Muslim students have expressed concerns about their safety on campus, particularly that the UCPD and the administration would not do enough to prevent an attack on Muslim students. But he says the police often support the Muslim community on campus.
Saleh recounted his own incident with bias during President Trump’s inauguration. The traditional robes he wore to pray made him a target for one driver who went out of his way to roll down windows so he and his friends could shout derogatory slurs at Saleh.
Although he no longer remembers the slurs, Saleh does remember the driver’s words: “This is Trump’s America.”
Both Ibrahim and Saleh invite people with further questions about Islam to visit the Islamic Center at UConn and they welcome all to join them in prayer on Fridays at 1pm.
Shelby Haydu is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.