United Against Hate: Hundreds Of Students Protect Muslims At Prayer

Hundreds of students at the University of Michigan united in defiance of growing Islamaphobia on Monday, as they stood in solidarity around a Muslim prayer group on campus.

Students and faculty of the university gathered in support of their fellow classmates, who were performing one of Islam's five daily prayers, the Ishaa prayer, the Huffington Post reports. The public display of solidarity came after a Muslim student at the university was reportedly violently threatened for wearing a hijab.

@uofmichigan students protecting ishaa prayer at the Diag

A photo posted by Benji Bear. (@benji_bear_photography) on

Farhan Ali, president of the university's Muslim Student Association which organised the prayers, said that his group wanted to show they were proud to be Muslim.

"Some individuals were afraid that we might be vulnerable during our prayer, so we had the idea of calling allies to support us and create a circle around us while we prayed and they ensured our safety," he told The Huffington Post.

However, they didn't expected such a turnout of support, either from Muslims or from other students, which included both the Jewish and Christian communities of the university.

"Hundreds and hundreds of people came out for both prayer and showing their support," Ali said. He added: "The amount of support was overwhelming and absolutely wonderful, and it brought some ease to the Muslim students [and] showed that we have other individuals who are willing to stand with us."

The public display comes in defiance of anti-Muslim rhetoric that has grown in the US over the last year. During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the US, and deplored the religion, claiming that "Islam hates us." In August he suggested an "extreme vetting" policy to combat radical Islam, where immigrants would be subject to an ideological screening test.

In his victory speech, however, he toned down his typically divisive rhetoric and called for unity, pledging to stand for civil liberties and to be "president for all Americans". 

But despite this, many Muslims in the US have expressed fears about what the future might hold. Ali spoke of "Sadness, fear, and uneasiness" in his university's Muslim community following the election result.

However, he insisted his group would not simply remain passive:

"We must roll up our sleeves and get to work because the fight does not end with the election results," he said. "We have allies who are with us and we have a community that is resilient and will not succumb to fear in light of these attacks."

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