More than 400 attend protest against xenophobia, executive order in the Piazza

Story by Caroline Roffe, Jamie Altman, Rebeccah Glaser, Jackie Cohen, Leah de Leon, Jade Boren and Malvica Sawhney

Sophomore violin performance major Safieh Moshirfatemi shares her story during the rally. Photo by Bonnie Cash

More than 400 students attended a protest against xenophobia and President Donald Trump’s executive order in the Attallah Piazza Wednesday afternoon, after some staged a walkout from their classes at 11:40 a.m.

Students held signs that read, “Being Muslim and American are not mutually exclusive” and “Without immigrants there would be no USA” to stand in solidarity with students affected by Trump’s executive order, which requires U.S. border officials to turn away travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.

“We wanted something that was symbolic,” said Safieh Moshirfatemi, a sophomore violin performance major and one of the organizers of the event. “Everyone coming from different parts of campus coming together, and then the shock factor (of a walkout).”

More than 400 students and faculty members attended the rally. Photo by Jackie Cohen

During the protest, which lasted about an hour, students shouted several chants, including “Mexico to the Middle East, we demand justice, we demand peace,” “Immigrants are under attack. What do we do? Stand up,  fight back,” and “Refugees are welcome here.”

Several students spoke in front of the crowd, sharing personal stories and leading chants. Ahmad al Bunnia, a junior political science major and Iraqi citizen, read from the Quran and talked about Islam as a religion of compassion.

Carley Waterbury, a senior integrated education studies major, attended the rally to stand in solidarity with Chapman students.

Sophomore film proudction major Safi Nazzal speaks during the protest to show his support. Photo by Bonnie Cash

“As a future teacher, I want to know that I can stand in front of or next to or behind my students in whatever they need me to do and I stand with my brothers and sisters in this time,” Waterbury said. “We need that as a country. We need to stand together and resist together.”

Several professors attended the protest, including Liam O’Mara, a history professor who teaches a class about the Arab world and colonialism. O’Mara encouraged his students to walk out of his class, which was scheduled to end at 11:50, 10 minutes early to attend the protest. O’Mara said that one of the students who spoke at the protest, Safi Nazzal, is in his class.

“First on the mobilization, I hope this continues and if this can build up, that would be great. Any rights that you aren’t willing to fight for, is a right that you don’t have,” O’Mara said. “If you aren’t willing to defend them then you don’t have them. I don’t actually expect the administration to respond well to it. But the more people get involved, the more other legislators will respond and begin to obstruct things.”

Students showed their support in a rally in the Attallah Piazza against xenophobia. Photo by Bonnie Cash

Matt Luberski, a sophomore undeclared student who voted for Trump, observed the protest on his way to class.

“It was really disruptive,” he said.

Cassidy Scanlon, a senior creative writing major who participated in the rally, believes that if people oppose the executive order, they should have been part of the rally.

“There are a couple reasons why people wouldn’t (come to the protest),” Scanlon said. “You don’t always have to be participating in order to support, but at the same, I don’t know if it’s fear. I don’t know if it’s an unwillingness. I don’t know if it’s (disagreement). It’s hard to tell because silence, in a sense, can be the same as not supporting.”

Audrey Woodsum, a sophomore business administration major, said that the protest was about starting a conversation and convincing people to take action.

Students held signs and chanted to protest xenophobia and President Donald Trump’s executive order. Photo by Jackie Cohen

“I talked to someone who had only heard of the ban three hours ago, because of this (protest),” Woodsum said. “We’re influencing in the way that we’re giving notice to it. We’re letting people in on the issue and giving them a chance to become more educated … The more noise we make, the more educated people are going to be.”

Dany Zavala, a sophomore political science major, said that the movement needs to continue beyond Wednesday’s protest.

“It’s really important that we don’t just come to rallies and protest,” she said. “We have to take it a step further and this is the coalition that will definitely help that, help educate, help internalize, help mobilize and help just keep it going, because we definitely need that right now.”

6 Comments

  • Is there any way you could find out the name of the Iraqi student who spoke? His identity is important.

  • What a bunch of naive students who are so out of touch with reality. There are Islamic terrorists that want to kill us. And in most Muslim countries they often persecute Jews and Christians, the disrespect for women is indisputable . And girls, with your short shorts, you would be beaten or at least threatend ,if not worse. They also hate democracy and have authoritative governments, and torture is a constant reality. And that is in the more moderate states. And if you convert to Judaism or Christianity, you can be jailed or killed.

    Yet chapmans naive liberal students , with their liberal indoctrination , at the hands of their left-wing activist professors, are leading these poor vulnerable sheep to the slaughter. Islam is the enemy of public western education. American Muslims are very different from MiddleEastern Muslims and that adds to the confusion. Don’t be naive ! Muslim nations hate democracy and they also hate Israel who is the only middle-east country that shares our values. Does anyone remember when Iran said they wanted to destroy Israel and wipe her off the face of the Earth. Does anyone care that Christians have been slaughtered and eradicated, from many of these countries. And many of their women raped.

    Does this Islam sound like a religion of peace and compassion. Was their outrage on Chapmans campus when all of those Christian men were murdered and had

    their heads brutally cut off in Libya a couple of years ago ? I don’t remember any demonstrations in Attallah Piazza by Muslim students outraged by their co-religionists behavior and the expelling Of Christians from the MiddleEast. How many churches have been burned or blown up in Pakistan or Egypt. Did the Muslim students at Chapman raise their fist in the air to protest thes barbarities ? Of course not.

    It is very reasonable to stop the flow of people from some of these countries that have terrorist tendencies . That is not xenophobic. That is common sense !
    Although there is a part of me that wishes Islamic law would come to Chapman for a week and see the women in burkas ,and no alcohol, no premarital sex, and no freedom of alternate religion, and of course, no Undie run by the fountain. Now that would be the end of this horrible Naïveté by so many of our misguided students !!

    • Is it exhausting to be this hateful?

      Dan Jones you go ahead and keep your xenophobic, Christofascist nonsense to yourself.

  • To the panther staff:
    “Although there is a part of me that wishes Islamic law would come to Chapman for a week and see the women in burkas ,and no alcohol, no premarital sex, and no freedom of alternate religion, and of course, no Undie run by the fountain. Now that would be the end of this horrible Naïveté by so many of our misguided students !!”

    I am a strong proponent of free speech however I feel that Dan Jones’ comments are often inappropriate and I wish you would consider taking them off of your site.

  • I applaud these people for standing up to religious and racial bigotry. The christofascists and Zionists want us to wage their war on the behalf by destroying their religious rival. They want to basically launch a new crusade against the Muslim world so they can get their resources and convert them to Christ.

    In Europe, where racism and religious bigotry from rightwing conservatives have led to violence and anti-immigrant terrorism the situation is worse as there are not enough non-whites and minorities to prevent such actions from the white identity mobs. Hopefully, here minorities and their well-wishers will stand strong against right-wing fascism. I wish them well!

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