On Tuesday, Feb. 22, Zena Saleh, an eighth-semester speech and pathology major, posted on several social media sites about a racist incident against herself and fellow student Shazeda Khatun which occurred the previous night at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus. Saleh described a car of four men screaming at them and making obscene gestures.
“My roommate and I were walking back to our dorm a little while ago and these four guys started yelling racial slurs at us and flipping us off,” Saleh wrote on the UConn subreddit.
Saleh mentions the four men were in a white Mustang and had been shouting the slurs while driving before they stopped.
“Even if they were not doing it because we are Muslims, the fact they were doing this at all is shocking and disgusting,” Saleh said in an interview.
Within less than 24 hours, the post gathered over 220 likes and many replies offering support and suggesting methods of informing authorities.
In an interview over Zoom, Khatun, a sixth-semester sociology major, said they explained the situation to the UConn Muslim Student Association who then reached out to campus police. As of now, there have been no updates on the investigation.
“This happened to us in front of the Rec Center, and one of the guys was halfway out of the car. There must be a security camera that saw what happened,” Khatun said.
Along with support from many students on the posts, MSA has provided their own statement regarding the incident.
“There are hundreds of Muslims, if not over a thousand, in the UConn community: undergrads, grad students, faculty, and staff,” said MSA. “Because of incidents like these, our community members, especially women who wear the hijab feel unsafe on campus where they live. We hope the university takes swift action to hold the individuals responsible to account, and that they are vocal in their condemnation of islamophobia.”
The incident came after an act against Shias, a minority Muslim sect, last week when a number of turbahs, clay pieces used by Shias in prayer, were destroyed in the Homer Babbidge library.
“I doubt there is any connection between these events,” said Saleh, “but I used to feel safe at UConn. We’ve never been targets of anything like this.”
Both Saleh and Khatun urged the university to investigate the incident further and not let their case be ignored.