Terrorism, in the modern sense, is violence against civilians to achieve political or ideological objectives through creating fear. Last time I checked, that was the accurate definition. Last Monday, an ad was published which created a lot of confusion and fear in our school, especially for the Muslim student community. The ad claimed the Muslim Student Association on campuses across the country – including UCSB – was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist organizations, where they preach “jihad.”
At first glance, the ad seemed like an official announcement or article, which could confuse some readers. Now, when members of the MSA are accused of being linked to terrorist organizations and people believe it, this would give rise to a major security risk for them and for students around them. Fortunately, the majority of our campus’ faculty, staff and students showed their support for the MSA by condemning the ad, with a few exceptions – but it’s a free country, and we listen to other opinions, whether we like it or not.
First of all, any person on campus who met with any members of the MSA or attended their events would know the claims linking the MSA to terrorists are absurd. All MSA meetings and events are always open, with an invitation for all the UCSB community to attend and educate themselves. The Muslim community attends UCSB for the same reason as everyone else: to seek finer higher education in a peaceful and friendly atmosphere. This Muslim community came together to represent themselves within the student body, to support each other and educate their fellow colleagues. That is what is now known as MSA. The ad was published by David Horowitz, a person notorious for his anti-Islamic propaganda and his hate for the Muslim communities around the country. The real reason for such hate is unknown to us, and I honestly hope he gets over whatever it is that pissed him off. The funny part is he still uses the same “evidence,” which has already been debunked. All of the Muslim community support freedom of speech and freedom in general, and always will. Being a Muslim is a privilege and the right to free practice is protected by the laws of this land. With such propaganda spreading, being Muslim is not as easy anymore. Last week, I was called a terrorist on more than one occasion, some jokingly and some not. Either way I had the same reaction: Laugh about it. But having received such attitudes, especially the serious ones, I cannot help but feel an unwelcoming vibe and some concern for my security.
These feelings have stopped a few students from being able to go to class comfortably, which is the whole point of being here! The UCSB community is such a nice, peaceful and welcoming one and such propaganda would only come from outside it, which only aims to stir some disturbance within the community. The main concern about the ad is that it links a modern political ideology with a religion, which has been around for over 1,400 years. As time has shown, this religion is rich with heritage and culture, and is too superior to waste our time trying to refute such allegations. I want to remind Mr. Horowitz that students on this campus are intelligent, and trying to mislead such minds is a grave offense in itself, even though not punishable. Mr. Horowitz is trying to waste our time so we don’t concentrate on our education, and try to isolate the Muslim communities as outcasts. But eventually it worked the opposite way, as it has brought the student communities closer together and educated more people about the religion and made us stronger and more determined to get the best from what UCSB has to offer. Let me wrap this up with quote by Leonardo Da Vinci, which I hope everyone – including my friend Horowitz – will take into consideration: “Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes.”