Students write letters of encouragement to members of San Antonio’s Muslim community

Shock, confusion and disbelief. These were the general reactions of Trinity students to President Donald Trump’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.

“I felt like it just exploded. I felt like all of the things that we’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,” said Adam Syed, a senior music major.

Amidst the shock, students like Gabrielle Racz, an undeclared junior, expressed disbelief at the new president’s actions.

“It doesn’t make any sense. The whole idea of it seems super backwards and you wouldn’t expect it to be anything that enough people would approve for it to be allowed,” Racz said.

Yara Samman, a junior biology major, who immigrated from Syria, echoed Racz’s sentiments.

“Honestly 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 we’re not welcome anymore. And it’s not just that we’re not welcome anymore. A lot of my family can’t leave the country now because they wouldn’t be able to come back into the country because they’re either on student visas or [they have] asylum status. This affects us all and it’s been very hard,” 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.

“I was worried because I can’t imagine that happening to anyone I know and love. An hour after it happened my mother called me and she told me she doesn’t want me to go to mosques off of campus to perform Friday prayer, the Jumu’ah, which is arguably one of the most important prayer for any Muslim to do. It’s honestly ridiculous that I’m afraid to go to my place of worship and practice my religion. I don’t imagine any of my close Christian, white friends are really afraid to go to church or Mass or anything along those lines,” Abdallah said.

Syed’s mother also expressed concern about her Muslim son’s  physical safety.

“My mom told me to shave my beard. She told me to go clean shaven. She said it’s just too much, it’s too crazy right now,” Syed said.

However, amidst the Muslim community’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 Antonio’s Muslim community to show them that they are not alone.

“I have two points and they’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,” professor Singh said.

Syed said that the card-signing event was indicative of the Trinity community’s spirit.

“I think this is amazing, the cards of encouragement that Trinity students, random Trinity students, came up and wrote and they’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 Trinity’s campus. There are occasional people that you run into that may feel differently, but overall it’s been an overwhelmingly positive atmosphere of acceptance that I’ve felt,” Syed said.