Protesting anti-Muslim hate crimes

By Tristan Brosnan

AMHERST, Mass.--Some 60 students at the University of Massachusetts came together November 12 at the Student Union to speak out against Islamophobia and the attack on the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton in Ohio.

The speakout was organized by the Ohio Speak Out Coalition, which was formed to raise awareness about an attack on a mosque in Dayton, Ohio, in September.

As approximately 300 worshipers were preparing for evening prayers at the mosque, two men sprayed an irritant through a window where infants and children were waiting. One 10-year-old girl, who was helping care for the other children, was sprayed directly in the face. The fumes spread through the building, forcing everyone to evacuate.

Yet police refuse to label the attack a hate crime. And besides local newspapers, bloggers and independent media outlets like SocialistWorker.org, there has been a newar media blackout of the incident.

Among the groups involved in the coalition at UMass-Amherst are Asian Americans for Political Awareness, the Muslim Student Association, the Cape Verdean Student Alliance, the International Socialist Organization and the Western Mass. Campus Antiwar Network.

Despite the cold weather, dozens of students stopped on the way to class to hear about the attacks that Arabs and Muslims are facing in the U.S. A number of students mentioned the recent attack on three Palestinian students at UC Berkeley by a group of Zionist students.

After the speakout, 40 students marched around campus chanting "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Islamophobia has got to go!" with banners that read "We Want Equality."

In the wake of the speakout, the Muslim Student Association has been singled out by the right wing on campus for supposedly informing the student body about a "sham hate crime." The Ohio Speak Out Coalition is in the process of organizing a response to the right's lies.