UConn Students Speak Out Against Racism, Discrimination After Hateful Vandalism Targets Muslim Student

More than 100 students at the University of Connecticut took part a demonstration on the Storrs campus on Monday afternoon after someone scrawled "killed Paris" on the nametag hanging outside a Muslim student's dorm room over the weekend.

Mahmoud Hashem, a junior civil engineering student, said the message was discovered on Saturday, the day after seven terrorists unleashed a series of attacks on Paris that killed 129 dead and wounded 352 others.

Hashem said he has been overwhelmed with support since people found out about the note. A rally was held at noon on Monday outside the Wilbur Cross Building on campus.

"I love America," Hashem said. "Don't treat me like a terrorist."

On Monday, students gathered chanting words of support and messages, including "racism has got to go." 

On Sunday, Hashem met with the school's dean and other residents of his dorm, Nathan Hale Inn, and, he said, and hopes whoever wrote the message will learn to reserve judgment and have the opportunity to continue studying at UConn.

Students have been pushing the administration to do more than just talk about racial issues and try to find solutions. They said they want to prevent racism and racial profiling altogether, especially following the massacre in Paris, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility.

"We want to make sure that everybody is feeling safe. They have the love and support that they need," Ahmed Ouda, a UConn junior, said.  

Before the demonstration was held, students said they hoped it will pave the way for more diversity on campus and tolerance training for students.

"It actually affected a lot of people too, because it’s just wrong to do," said UConn freshman Kylie Sheahan.

Ahead of the demonstration, UConn president Susan Herbst sent a message to the UConn community in the morning Monday morning, asking students, faculty and staff members to attend the demonstration.

"The event was organized by our students after a fellow UConn student had a cruel and hurtful message anonymously directed at him because he is Muslim. This has no place at UConn; we are a better university than that – and I believe a better nation than that," Herbst said. "The true character of our university is thoughtful, welcoming, and caring – and has no patience for bigotry." 

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