November 14, 2017
By: Leslie Claire Amminson
On October 17, the Muse reported on islamophobic posters detailing the perceived threat of immigrants to “the West”. Those posters were subsequently taken down, and were replaced by more of MUNSU’s “No islamophobia, anti-semitism, racism” campaign posters. Last week, straightforward white supremacist statements that read, “It’s ok to be white”, covered up MUNSU’s posters.
The second round of posters ignited a stronger reaction from MUNSU and other campus organizations. “I guess at first the posters were a little bit misinforming and very misleading. It would be statements using language like ‘invasion’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ ”, said Renata Lang, Director of External Affairs for MUNSU, “[The message] was hurtful, [yes] but it was very ambiguous. It would be put near our posters but not necessarily, as the case we see now, something saying ‘It’s ok to be white’ posted directly on top of the anti-racism posters and ours even being taken down”.
On Wednesday, November 8, MUNSU organized a demonstration against xenophobic and islamophobic remarks that had been previously posted around campus.
Lang read the opening remarks, which expressed the need for community support. “We are organizing today because discrimination does affect how students access their education, and anti-racism is at the core of [MUNSU’s] work. Dr. Jennifer Massey on behalf of the University, also highlighted the importance of not standing by and letting hateful speech happen. “Hope, in this sense,” she stated, “is not a passive aspiration for a better day to come, but an active, intentional construct”.
The Vice-President of the Muslim Students’ Association, Abdulrahim Iqbal, also spoke on behalf of Muslim students on campus about the effect of the posters. “It saddens us,” he stated, “but seeing all the support from the University and all our fellow peers across campus, it encourages us to become better Muslims and by extension, better people”. He also remarked that any Muslim students who are feeling emotionally affected by the posters can go to the MSA for peer counselling.
Posting of MUNSU’s anti-racism message around campus followed the speeches. “The purpose of this action today to show that while there are some who spread misinformation, in the shadowy corners of our communities, many of us are ready to challenge those who target marginalized and oppressed groups” said Lang.
As of now, it is confirmed that the RNC is investigating the incident, but no charges have been laid at this point.