Students write letters of encouragement to members of San Antonioâ€™s Muslim community
Shock, confusion and disbelief. These were the general reactions of Trinity students to President Donald Trumpâ€™s executive order halting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries including Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. The executive order came after Trump ran a campaign charged with anti-Islam rhetoric.
â€œI felt like it just exploded. I felt like all of the things that weâ€™ve been talking about and all of the people that have been arguing and all of the things that have been yelled and said just came to a head in one moment,â€ said Adam Syed, a senior music major.
Amidst the shock, students like Gabrielle Racz, an undeclared junior, expressed disbelief at the new presidentâ€™s actions.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t make any sense. The whole idea of it seems super backwards and you wouldnâ€™t expect it to be anything that enough people would approve for it to be allowed,â€ Racz said.
Yara Samman, a junior biology major, who immigrated from Syria, echoed Raczâ€™s sentiments.
â€œHonestly it was a lot of shock. When I came to this country I had a feeling of being very comfortable and very safe and all of a sudden weâ€™re not welcome anymore. And itâ€™s not just that weâ€™re not welcome anymore. A lot of my family canâ€™t leave the country now because they wouldnâ€™t be able to come back into the country because theyâ€™re either on student visas or [they have] asylum status. This affects us all and itâ€™s been very hard,â€ Samman said.
The executive order has left several students worried for their safety on campus. Samy Abdallah, a junior history major, said that his mother expressed concerns about him attending mosque, especially after the shooting of six Muslims who were worshiping in a mosque in Quebec.
â€œI was worried because I canâ€™t imagine that happening to anyone I know and love. An hour after it happened my mother called me and she told me she doesnâ€™t want me to go to mosques off of campus to perform Friday prayer, the Jumuâ€™ah, which is arguably one of the most important prayer for any Muslim to do. Itâ€™s honestly ridiculous that Iâ€™m afraid to go to my place of worship and practice my religion. I donâ€™t imagine any of my close Christian, white friends are really afraid to go to church or Mass or anything along those lines,â€ Abdallah said.
Syedâ€™s mother also expressed concern about her Muslim sonâ€™s Â physical safety.
â€œMy mom told me to shave my beard. She told me to go clean shaven. She said itâ€™s just too much, itâ€™s too crazy right now,â€ Syed said.
However, amidst the Muslim communityâ€™s fear for the future; there is some hope. On Wednesday, Simran Singh, assistant professor of religion, hosted an event for members of the Trinity community to write cards of encouragement to members of San Antonioâ€™s Muslim community to show them that they are not alone.
â€œI have two points and theyâ€™re basically at tension with one another. One is that there is real animosity against Muslims in this country right now and people are acting on those feelings and they should take them very seriously and they should be very careful. The second is that there is incredible empathy for those who are most vulnerable right now. There is a lot of support on campus for Muslim communities and [the cards] shows this,â€ professor Singh said.
Syed said that the card-signing event was indicative of the Trinity communityâ€™s spirit.
â€œI think this is amazing, the cards of encouragement that Trinity students, random Trinity students, came up and wrote and theyâ€™re going to be sent to mosques all around San Antonio.
I am continuously astonished and thankful and amazed and inspired by all of the support that Muslim students and Muslims in general have been getting here at Trinityâ€™s campus. There are occasional people that you run into that may feel differently, but overall itâ€™s been an overwhelmingly positive atmosphere of acceptance that Iâ€™ve felt,â€ Syed said.