Student Group Fights Islamophobia
Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013
Updated: Thursday, May 2, 2013 01:05
Between the comedy show fliers and a cappella banners, “Don’t Meet Hurt with Hate, Love Islam” might be missed by those passing through the Quad. The phrase, painted on a blue banner and hung earlier this week, is surrounded by signatures and kind words of Boston College students, faculty, and administrators in support of the cause.
“Don’t Meet Hurt with Hate” is an anti-hate initiative group created in response to the prejudice against Muslims, immigrants, and people of color after the Boston Marathon bombings. The initiative was created by members of the BC community, including Sriya Bhattacharyya, GLSOE ’14.
“This whole entire thing started when we were in the lockdown, during the aftermath of the bombings,” Bhattacharyya said. “In the lockdown, I think the only thing people could do was watch the news, sit, and wait for more information. As I was sitting there, all I could think about [was] how worried I was that the person behind this was a Muslim.”
Bhattacharyya feared that people would impose violence and discrimination on Muslims, immigrants, and people of color after the bombings.
“As everything was unfolding, the first thing that the media jumped to was what their religion is and where they are from,” Bhattacharyya said. “Immediately, within minutes, people on Twitter started making memes and people on Facebook started putting things up about immigration reform … People jumped to conclusions out of fear, anger, and just wanting someone to blame.”
Bhattacharyya spent the lockdown day text-messaging her friend and fellow student, Kimberly Ashby. The two decided to make a banner to address the issues of violence and discrimination on BC campus. Bhattacharyya created the slogan “Don’t Meet Hurt with Hate.”
“The slogan actually came from something I had heard about the Amish school shooting in 2006,” Bhattacharyya said. “A milk man went into an Amish community, tied up a group of Amish school girls and essentially raped and shot them. It was absolutely horrible … After the devastation, this Amish community invited the killer’s family to the funeral. It really touched me. I remember reading that one of the elderly women in the community said, ‘We know that the hurt is very great, but you cannot balance hurt with hate.’ I thought it was really beautiful how they met the family of the killer with so much love and understanding. I thought that was a really important message to remember.”
Bhattacharyya and other members of the anti-hate initiative chose to focus on and support an underrepresented community after the Marathon bombings.
“We recognized that so many of the victims were hurt in the bombings, and there are so many resources addressing them,” Bhattacharyya said. “So we chose to focus on a different community that was being attacked as well … We did it to give Muslim and international students and students of color on campus a means of support.”
The banner was hung in the Quad early last week. Since then, over 400 members of the BC community have signed it. “Don’t Meet Hurt with Hate” also took to Facebook, where the anti-hate group has engaged in conversations concerning the discrimination and violence against members of the Islam community, immigrants, and people of color.
“A lot of people said they wished they knew more about Islam,” Bhattacharyya said. “Kind of organically, we decided to have an event to talk about it.”
“Myths and Facts About Islam: Post Marathon” was held on Tuesday night in Stokes Hall. The event featured Ali Banuazizi, political science professor and director of Islamic Civiliaztion & Society; Na’eel Cajee, Harvard School of Dental Medicine ’14; Nuri Friedlander, associate chaplain at the Harvard Islamic Society; Lisa Tobias, Finance Director at WorldTeach; and Dana Collins, GLSOE ’16. The panelists discussed the common misconceptions and, in turn, the truths about Islam and Muslims. They also answered questions that students submitted via the “Don’t Meet Hurt with Hate” Facebook page and through email concerning Islamic culture and Muslim religion.
“The turnout was fantastic and the panelists provided informative, honest answers to students’ questions,” Bhattacharyya said. “I think it’s so important to balance the information that people are receiving and to give people to understand Islam if they wish.”
Bhattacharyya said that the “Don’t Meet Hurt with Hate” initiative will continue until at least the end of the semester.