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Muslim students need to stay, educate UA students

By Arizona Daily Wildcat Opinions Board

Wednesday September 19, 2001

Messages of solace and even aggression have made their way up onto the Wall of Expression. The bigoted subtext of some of the messages may have been one motivator leading to three Middle Eastern University of Arizona students deciding to return home. While safety must be thought of first, all remaining students of Arab descent need to stay here at UA.

Muslims and those hailing from the Middle East in the campus and Tucson communities have been as forthcoming, if not more than most, in showing grief for what happened in New York and Washington, D.C. Tucson's Islamic Center hosted a number of vigils and fundraising efforts and Arab students, along with members of The Hillel Foundation, marched to campus to remember those lost in the tragedies and pray for those who suffered losses.

By accusing or threatening anyone of Middle Eastern heritage for being a terrorist is not only illogical, but also asinine. Following the Oklahoma City bombings, were white people harassed by minorities? No. The logic translates directly to this instance.

Arguing that Jihad, considered by some an auxiliary or the Sixth Pillar of Faith in Islam, drives Muslims to perpetrate terrorist acts is ludicrous. Jihad, more succinctly, is the internal battle against those forces that cause practicing Muslims to stray from their faith. In the same way, America's more-accepted Christian doctrines espouse the turning away from evil and fighting natural urges. Likewise, this internal struggle is not externalized to force Christians to act violently.

No reason exists to persecute or harass UA's Middle Eastern students. In fact, those that UA is proud to include should be cherished as another group that helps to diversify and broaden the scope of the student body on this campus. Their insights are fresh and original, relative to traditional Western thought. With each loss of such a student, the educational opportunities here dwindle and we are all worse off. Furthermore, it robs the remaining UA students of the chance to meet, get to know and understand those people who might not look the same way as most students.

The Wildcat embraces campus diversity and encourages the campus community and the rest of Tucson to do the same. Having students so closed-minded that they believe someone with the name Abdullah or Mohammed to be a terrorist reflects extremely poorly on both the university and this community.

Should any student here harbor racist sentiments for Middle Easterners, they would be well served to speak intelligently and critically with someone knowledgeable on the region and Islam. To those coming to UA from North Africa, a Gulf nation, the Levant, and further east to Iraq and Pakistan, let it be known that you are cherished as academic treasures - foreign intellects with which this student body should not do without. Your staying here at the UA is, and will be, a testament to what kind of university this is: one that values miscellany and is wise enough to understand the value of foreign insight. If you have the choice, please choose to stay.


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