Sac State Muslims not immune to prejudice

Matt Wagar

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No one expects to be spit at while walking through the corridor between the Library and the University Union, but that?s what happened to one of Basma Marmosh?s friends last Thursday.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Sacramento State?s Muslim students are being forced to confront prejudice and racial intolerance head on.

Since the attacks, Muslim students have dealt with verbal threats and dirty looks from other students.

Marmosh, secretary of the Muslim Student Association, said it?s mind boggling that someone would attempt to spit on another person.

“It?s really sad to see someone actually do that,” Marmosh said. “I don?t know how someone could do that.”

Marmosh said her friend was in shock after the incident.

“She felt so belittled. All she could do was walk away,” Marmosh said.

A police report was filed Monday, according to John Hamrick, public information officer for Campus Police. He said the incident is being treated as a hate crime.

“It?s apparent (the incident was racially motivated) in this case, because of the recent events in New York and the ethnic headdress the victim was wearing,” Hamrick said.

The suspect is a white male in his 20s who, if caught, will face criminal charges.

“If found, the suspect will face criminal sanctions as well as University sanctions,” Hamrick said.

Jawad Ferouz, a member of MSA, said the attacks have heightened tension on campus.

“You get some weird looks from people; you don?t know if they hate you or feel sorry for you,” Ferouz said.

Things that he used take for granted, like walking around campus and making eye contact with people, have taken on a whole different meaning.

“Right now, I don?t know if I should (make eye contact with people),” Ferouz said.

Since Tuesday morning?s tragedy, Marmosh has witnessed other displays of prejudice and intolerance on campus.

Marmosh was walking through the Library Quad on her way to class last week when she heard someone say, “We should bomb you all.”

Marmosh said that philosophies of the Muslim extremist group, the Taliban, which is believed to be responsible for the terrorist attacks, do not mirror the teachings of Islam.

“It really has nothing to do with the religion,” Marmosh said. “It doesn?t fall under what the religion teaches. It?s a contradiction.”

Marmosh said Islam is a peaceful religion and that it?s not fair to assume that all Muslims or Arabs follow someone who is a terrorist.

“What happened in New York and at the Pentagon is not right, and what?s happening to us is not right,” Marmosh said.

Marmosh said she feels safer on campus than outside of it, but she and other Muslim women are careful not to walk alone.

“We?re taking extra precautions because we have been hearing a lot of horror stories, on and off-campus, mainly off-campus,” Marmosh said.

These precautions include calling male Arabs and Muslims to escort them to their cars.

“If I am scared to walk out to my car, that is really sad,” Marmosh said.

The upside, if there is one, is that the Muslim and Arab students are becoming more close-knit.

“It?s gotten us closer, but it?s a high price to pay to become closer,” Marmosh said. “We?ve gotten to know each other, but at what cost?”

Hamrick is asking people to reports any incidents to the Campus Police at 278-6851.

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