Hundreds gather for walkout in show of solidarity with Muslim students


Jeffrey Wang/Daily Senior Staffer

Protesters gather outside the Multicultural Center on Wednesday to demonstrate against President Trump’s recent immigration action. The event, titled #NoMuslimBan Walkout, was organized by Immigrant Justice Project and various other groups on campus.

Catherine Kim, Reporter

Hundreds of students and faculty gathered outside the Multicultural Center on Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate against President Trump’s recent immigration action, the culmination of an orchestrated walkout from classes in protest of the executive order.

Participants left academic buildings and residence halls at 3:10 p.m. to meet at the building on Sheridan road, after which several speakers — mostly Muslim students — addressed the crowd. A list of demands to the University were then presented after the crowd marched to Harris Hall, such as ceasing the use of E-Verify — which some criticize as dangerous to undocumented students and faculty — and providing free housing during breaks to students who cannot return to their home countries.

Weinberg sophomore Rowan Hussein, who immigrated from Sudan at age 8, said she feels unwanted by her own country because of her background. Though she takes pride in embodying the “intersection of four resilient identities” — black, Muslim, woman and immigrant — she said she is angry that some fail to respect those identities.

“When you say ‘ban,’ you are not just erasing my identity,” she said. “You are erasing me.”

The “#NoMuslimBan Walkout” was organized by the Immigrant Justice Project and various other groups on campus in response to Trump’s order, a 90-day ban prohibiting citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the United States. The executive order also blocks refugees from entering the country for 120 days, and it prevents Syrian refugees from entering indefinitely. Walkout organizers collected more than $1,000 in donations to the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Council on American Islamic Relations in Chicago.

Communication junior Aneesa Abdul-Fattaah Johnson, who is Muslim, described her father as the strongest man she knows. She said it is scary that her family has to worry about what’s next for Muslims in the United States.

“My dad is scared, and that really means something to me that the fear has gotten to that level where the person who is a pillar in my life is afraid too,” she said in front of the crowd.

Abdul-Fattaah Johnson criticized people who say they care about Muslim rights but refuse to speak up for Muslim individuals on campus. She shared her own classroom experiences of students passively watching during situations in which she felt very uncomfortable. For instance, she said she was emotionally drained when she had to repeatedly defend the goodness of her religion and identity to a white classmate.

“So if you care, step up,” she said. “Say something.”

Walkout participants also held hands in a circle, surrounding Muslim students in a show of solidarity as they prayed Maghrib, the fourth of five daily prayers that occurs at sunset.

Weinberg sophomore Joseph Mathew told The Daily it hurt him to know that Muslim students were suffering in effect of Trump’s policies. He said he hoped the stories of pain and persecution told at the event would be used to support the resistance against the new administration.

McCormick senior Kareem Youssef, an Egyptian-Palestinian American, said Trump’s executive order should move students toward unity and action.

“It’s time for you all to bring yourselves out of a place of complacency and into action,” Youssef said. “You’re supposed to train yourself to feel (and) to be sensitive to these issues. Otherwise you will not be aware, and you will not stand in solidarity.”

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