Muslim students at KU report harassment, violence - KCTV5

Muslim students at KU report harassment, violence

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Muslim students report that harassment and bullying has increased since Election Day. (KCTV5) Muslim students report that harassment and bullying has increased since Election Day. (KCTV5)
LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -

Muslim students at The University of Kansas say there's been a spike in harassment and bullying on campus since the election.

Meanwhile, the university and many of its students say they are working together to maintain an environment of tolerance and respect.

Facing Mecca on Friday, a group of Muslims in Lawrence were praying for peace days after an extremely divisive presidential election. 

"It's been surreal," said Zoya Kahn, president of the KU Muslim Student Association, "I don't think a lot of us expected this to happen." 

Khan has been hearing a handful of stories about bullying and discrimination against Muslims from classmates in the group since Tuesday.

“I've heard stories from people who have experienced violence and harassment firsthand,” Kahn said, “especially against women who are visibly Muslim. People being called things, having food thrown at them.”

"It's been like this for a long time," said Osama Mulki with the Lawrence Islamic Center. "Every time there's a crisis, you see incidents like this."

Kahn says the last few days have been troubling to her and other Muslim students on campus, but KU says no such incidents have been reported to the university.

Despite that, KU's International Student Services office sent out a letter to students offering counseling and rides to class for students who do feel threatened or harassed. The office wrote:

“Your presence on campus is important to us as we seek to create an informed, peaceful and just world through international educational exchange.  Your success and safety within this community are of highest priority.”

“I feel like a lot of Muslim students feel better just knowing these services are here,” Kahn said.

KU student Mohammad Hameed said, "Being a Muslim in Lawrence, Kansas, I find it very welcoming. Even though we feel different about political issues, they're supportive of my religion and they're kind to me."

Students throughout campus say they want their Muslim classmates to feel safe:

“I know students here want diversity.”

“We have a good ally system here.”

“I'd like to speak up and be supportive.”

Kahn believes the incidents she's heard about will stop happening as students practice tolerance and understanding. "Just being there, asking someone, 'How are you doing?'" Kahn said, "that makes the biggest impact." 

It's a big impact that starts with small gestures of kindness.

Kahn also said she hopes students speak out if they experience or witness any discrimination. “Things aren't going to change unless we take an active step to change them,” she said.

KU said that students who feel threatened or discriminated against can call campus Public Safety or the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access.

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