The stairs at Kimmel were overflowing on Thursday night with students and staff attending the Rise Against Hate Rally organized by the Muslim Students Association at NYU.
MSA staged this rally in response to the vandalism of the Muslim prayer room at the Tandon School of Engineering on Wednesday. “Trump!” was written on the door. The hashtag #NotOnOurCampus was used during the event to spread the message of rising above bigotry and promoting allyship with the Muslim community.
CAS senior and MSA president Afraz Khan said that there was a much bigger turnout than expected. He thinks that the response was so big because the vandalism at Tandon resonated with people across all minority groups. He said that positivity should be taken from hateful actions like the one at Tandon as it brings communities together.
“This is also in a sense sort of a source of inspiration: to make us feel even more motivated to bring our community towards a collective good,” Khan said. “Even if I’m a Muslim and something’s happened to me, I need to feel just as impacted if something happens to the black community, and that only begins when there is a dialogue or an event such as this.”
As the event began, hundreds of people crowded around the Kimmel second floor balcony to watch speakers take turns singing powerful songs, reading poetry and giving anecdotal speeches. When the main viewing areas became too crowded, NYU public safety officers ushered people into a lounge where the event was live broadcasted.
According to Khan, one of predominant messages this event intended was to bring light for the challenges many Muslims feel towards their identities. He said that although NYU is lucky to have an Islamic center and chapel — resources often not available at other campuses — Muslims at the university often still feel marginalized by professors and students.
“One of the biggest challenges is for us to feel proud about our faith in a way that empowers those that are younger than us,” Khan said. “If they don’t feel proud about this faith, then what are we fighting for?”
CAS senior Dino Ilievski said that he was appalled by the hideous rhetoric of the presidential campaign and how it manifested itself into the NYU community. Ilievski said that he was grateful for this event, since he needed to hear the stories of those in the Muslim community.
“I have not faced any of the oppression or hateful rhetoric that they have faced,” Ilievski said. “So to hear that it’s coming [from] my direction, not from me personally but from people like me who take things for granted, it’s holding up the mirror to which I can learn from.”
Ilievski was reassured that the event highlighted people who care about the Muslim community, but he thinks that there is still a lot to do after this rally — a mere first step.
“I don’t think that anybody wants to see us go backwards,” Ilievski said. “I think we only need more liberties, more rights; not less,”
CAS sophomore Ahmed Mabrouk identifies as a Muslim and thinks that hate crimes against Muslims needs to be addressed, because actions of this nature will only continue. He said that unity in acknowledging the reality as well as consistent, constant activism can begin the path to understanding.
“There are a lot of educated voters out there, everybody has their own priorities and it comes down to a lot of uneducated people that advocate or insight this hate violence and hate rhetoric,” Mabrouk said. “Unless that gets silenced, it is going to continue.”
Additional reporting by Natasha Roy. Email Jemima McEvoy at [email protected]