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‘Muslim students are being pressured into political silence’

Strand's Muslim prayer room

IT CANNOT be said that the recent occurrences of Islamophobia were caused by the passing of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) motion, but what cannot be denied is that through these acts, Muslim students are being pressured into political silence.

We cannot take these instances out of their context. The BDS motion was passed through a democratic vote on Tuesday night. It has been labelled as anti-Semitic, and it has been claimed that Jewish and Israeli students will feel alienated on campus if the motion is implemented, yet we see this isn’t the case.

BDS is a human rights movement, not one that targets or perpetuates an ethnic or religious divide. The motion passed is focused on economic divestment and research into unethical companies contracted by King’s.

However, we see that two days after the motion was passed, after someone was witnessed saying “f*** Hamas, f*** Palestine”, after the President of the Israel Society posted an Islamophobic video on Facebook that portrayed BDS and the Israel-Palestine conflict as a religious issue, directions towards the Muslim prayer room are being pasted over with the word ‘#jewish’ on them.

The places we see as representative of the university’s appreciation of religious diversity, and representative of our right as Muslims to practise our faith, are being used by a fringe group or individual to create a climate of fear targeting the Muslim community on campus.

These messages will make Muslim students feel as though voicing their political opinions isn’t important. This is particularly troubling in a year when the College community – led by Muslim students – has vocalised its opposition to and passed a motion against the organisation Student Rights, which cloaks its attack on Muslim practices through claims that it is tackling extremism.

These acts promote the idea that Muslims should remain a silent community on campus in order to avoid hate crimes. They are being made to choose between their politics and their right to practise religion on campus. This negatively affects the welfare of communities on campus and repels students from engaging in politics directly linked to our university for fear of discrimination. This is unacceptable.

Universities are places where you will encounter different opinions, beliefs and ideologies, and no student should be pushed into submission.

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