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Patriotism, racism on campus subjects of Likins' address

By Cyndy Cole and Amy Maltby

Friday September 14, 2001

Students gathered in prayer for Tuesday's victims

Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon have tested the solidarity of the UA community, UA President Peter Likins said in an address to students gathered for prayer in Centennial Hall last night.

"I speak today not as a Catholic or as a Christian, but as a member of the human race," Likins said. "And I must tell you that these have been very hard days for people on our campus in fear of their safety, who hide in their rooms in fear."

Muslim students - and those of other Middle Eastern descent - have been targeted by "misdirected anger in our community," Likins said.

"I hope that the patriotism I see across the nation, people wrapping themselves in American flags and such, doesn't deteriorate into xenophobia," Likins said. "A university community like this - we're not all Americans. We're not all Christians. We're not all anything."

Likins said that shock was the first reaction to Tuesday's tragedy, followed by grief, then anger.

"And we have to manage that anger," Likins said. "We have to make sure we don't misdirect that anger at our neighbors because their skin is brown or the language is Arabic, or their religion is Islamic."

"Can we focus our anger on terrorism, and terrorists and not be misdirected in our hostility toward large classes of people and the religions of other nations of the world?" Likins said.

Campus Crusade for Christ sponsored the event, which was open to all University of Arizona students. Approximately 250 students attended.

There were individual and group prayers during the gathering. Another prayer service will be held at the flagpole west of Old Main today at 5 p.m.

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon hit home for many students on campus.

"This is something that affected all of our lives," said Brant Nave, emcee and student leader in Campus Crusade for Christ. "We come together to pray, because that's really the only thing we can do."

The microphone was then opened to all attending, but names were kept anonymous out of respect.

One student who had interned in New York City over the summer with four other roommates is still waiting to hear from them.

"Two of them worked in the World Trade Center. They are still missing."

Another student commented on the futility of the attack.

"This accomplished absolutely nothing - and we lost so much in the process."

The service began with video-taped news coverage of the aftermath of Tuesday's attack, and ended with images people being rescued from the rubble. The coverage was a message of hope for the future, Nave said.

One person said he felt more compassionate after the service.

"I think it was great to see everyone get together and pray about the situation," said underclared freshman James Krepps.

Likins said this is a time for all students to show support for Muslim students.

"If you see a young woman dressed in traditional garb, of the Islamic faith, smile," Likins said. "Somehow send your signal that says 'I know this is not your fault, I know you didn't do this.'"


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