The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

MSA dinner brings Islamophobia to the table

St. John’s University’s Muslim Student Association, one of the 10 largest student organizations on campus, held a dinner Friday, Feb. 18, to educate students about the danger of Islamaphobia.

The event, called “The End to Islamophobia,” featured John Starling, a graduate of Al Madina University, as the keynote speaker. According to MSA’s website, the dinner was held to “put all the stereotypes to rest and learn what it truly means to be a Muslim practicing Islam.”

Islamophobia is the prejudice, fear or hatred against those of the Islamic faith. The word was coined in the 1980s but became more used in public discourse after the 9-11 attacks, according to the MSA’s website.

Starling started out the evening by sharing personal stories that included his conversion to Islam in college after the 9-11 attacks.

“My roommate woke me up that morning saying, ‘America’s just been bombed,’ I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Someone yelled things that I cannot repeat. For me that was the first time I had been faced with any kind of racism or discrimination and the first time I was faced with Islamophobia.”

That was the day that Islamophobia truly peaked, according to Starling.

Education about the fear of Islam was a point that Starling stressed throughout the evening and highlighted by drawing a parallel to Christians.

“One cannot judge one Christian off the acts of radical Christians and living in a western society,” he said.  “We are educated enough to know that we cannot equate one with the other.”

“You cannot leave this room tonight basing your understanding of an entire faith on a small minority.”

Starling shared a study by University of North Carolina and Duke, which concluded that, “A Muslim who is not well versed in his religion is more likely to become radicalized.”


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