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Show your support against Islamophobia!

This petition had 230 supporters

We the undersigned undergraduate and graduate students, current faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Pennsylvania collectively condemn the increasingly dangerous Islamophobic discourses and actions that are targeting Muslims in the U.S. These include calls for restricting Muslim immigration, the suggestion that we register Muslim citizens, encouraging violence against Muslims, and equating Islam with violence. Such statements and the vengeful sentiments they reflect are unworthy of our shared democratic and intellectual heritage and they violate the moral limits of political discourse.

As a scholarly community, we believe that it is our responsibility to create inclusive educational spaces for those who have been historically excluded from the academy. In today’s era of Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia, we must acknowledge that Muslim students across this university and elsewhere carry these heavy burdens on campus, at home, and in the digital world. From the media, Americans are constantly bombarded with images of Muslims being discriminated against, oppressed and silenced, fleeing violence, drowning, and being murdered around the world. Muslim-American students are also confronting heinous acts and words of hate across this country. Not only are violent extremists targeting Muslims more than any other group, they are also the targets of these home-grown acts of hatred and discrimination; both of which take a psychological and emotional toll on Muslim Americans. In these times, the university must provide a safe institutional home for students. The needs of Muslim students must be recognized by faculty and administration, helping to foster a sense of belonging.  As Harvard Professor Ali Asani explains: “What’s most important is to give a sense of belonging to both the university and to the larger community. When that sense is threatened, I think the universities should be the first to step up to the plate for the sake of their own students.”

Along these lines, we believe in making a statement expressing collective condemnation of the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim rhetoric put forth by today’s political leaders, including certain politicians who are alumni of our university. We cannot equate Islam with terrorism and as a scholarly community, it is incumbent upon us to educate and inform the larger community about the terrible consequences of such unsophisticated and dangerous thought. We believe these people are increasing the sense of fear and hatred across this country and call upon Penn’s President Amy Gutmann, Provost Vincent Price and other university leaders to express solidarity and support for their Muslim faculty, students, and employees. As a nation, these moments present a test for our institutional and moral character. It is time for us to step up and explicitly condemn anti-Muslim rhetoric and acts of hate against the Muslim community in Philadelphia and across the United States. We believe that condemnation must also take the form of changes to our university campus practices. The Muslim community at Penn is incredibly diverse with students representing a wide range of ethnic and racial identities. However, what these students share is fear of a growing hostilities against their faith community within the larger American public sphere.

As part of the recognition that Penn, like most American university campuses at this moment, is experiencing heightened tensions that have especially deleterious effects on its Muslim faculty and student communities, we demand the following:

1. A written condemnation by President Gutmann and Provost Price addressing the current anti-Muslim and Islamophobic discourse in the United States to be shared to all faculty, staff, and students at the university.

2. Support for open forums on Penn’s campus for students and faculty to discuss specific actions that can be taken to make Muslim-Americans feel safer on campus and in Philadelphia.

3. Panels should have special space for Penn police and security so that they are aware of the heightened hate speech on campus and are prepared to protect students from it.

4. The hiring of counselors and recognition of current faculty members who identify as Muslim to help Penn’s Muslim students cope with the mental health effects of living in a constant state of fear and anxiety.

We at Penn are not insulated from the hatred, fear, and increased divisiveness that marks our country today. We need not wait for a specific action to take proactive steps that acknowledge how Islamophobia has become the dominant narrative around Muslim-Americans today and that there is something we can do about it. As such, it is our responsibility to take these first steps in creating a community that is safe for all of its student populations and allows them to focus on what they have come to our university to do: learn.

In the comments, please sign your name, whether you are a student, alumni, or faculty member, and your department affiliation.

Thank you for your support.


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