Solidarity shown after internet threat to Muslim people

By Jessica Suico, Assistant News Editor

After a global internet threat went out on April 2 encouraging a “Punish a Muslim Day,” the Contra Costa College counseling department responded with a community outreach awareness table for Muslim students in the Campus Center Plaza.

Messages by students of support and love to the Muslim community such as “Stay strong,” “We support you,” and “We stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters” covered colorful boards.

“I saw a picture online about ‘Punish a Muslim day’,” Muslim Student Association President Rayah Alammari said, “I didn’t think too much of it, but some of my friends didn’t feel comfortable coming to school.”

The formation of the table had help from the counseling department, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and the Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) program.

According to a article by Sarah Beauchamp, “Punish a Muslim Day,” only highlights what Muslims in the U.S. already go through.

The threat was created by a group of people in the United Kingdom as a “holiday” calling for cruel acts against people of the Muslim faith.

Within hours the threat made its way to the United States.

“The importance of having the table was to give Muslim students on campus the ability to know they are safe and loved,” CCC counselor Norma Valdez-Jimenez said. “We want to give them opportunities to voice themselves if they don’t feel this way on campus.”

Valdez-Jimenez said she heard about the threat through her friend and co-worker Mayra Padilla.

Padilla, who is CCC’s dean of institutional effectiveness and equity, called Valdez-Jimenez that night and they both brainstormed an idea to help spread awareness and support to the Muslim students on campus.

Through brainstorming, Valdez-Jimenez and Padilla put together the table to show their support to the Muslim community on campus.

Alammari said she felt the support and love when she came to school after the threat.

“I saw the support table for Muslims in the Campus Center Plaza and was escorted to my classes by Police Services to feel safe,” Alammari said.

“It doesn’t just benefit the Muslim students on campus, it benefits everyone because people who aren’t aware of the Muslim community and the hardships Muslims go through were able to get the awareness and information too,” she said.

On April 27, Padilla held a meeting with the MSA to discuss a further date to organize a more in depth workshop and forum surrounding the plights of the Muslim community on campus.

Padilla said they’re figuring out a good date and time to have activists come and talk about the inclusivity of community to students on campus.

Aiming for late May, Padilla said the activists will be addressing the positives and negatives plaguing the Muslim community, the local challenges they face, and how to help incorporate support from the college community.

“There will be a professional counselor who will be addressing community justice and giving information and resources to worried Muslim students and students in general,” Padilla said.

English major Nada Dobashi said, “Having that awareness table helped me feel safe on campus. My mom wouldn’t let me come to school the day after the threat, but the second day I came Police Services escorted me to my classes. I got a lot of support from students on campus. It made me happy to see the campus taking action.” 

“I am a U.S. citizen,” Dobashi said. “Just because I wear something different doesn’t mean I am different from anyone else.”

Alammari said the table benefitted the campus and its students. It helps the community gain a stronger understanding of the Muslim community.

“A lot of us think we know and understand everything until there is a harmful or negative action happening,” she said. “People then start opening their eyes to what is really going on. It is hard to be equal when there is so much judgment against religion.”