Voices are heard about Islamophobia at Mesa College




Barwaaqo Dirir, 21, decided to wear an American flag hijab for the first time while attending a talk by Jaylani Hussein on Islamophobia. “I woke up this morning and people were looking at me differently, said Dirir. “This is my home. We’re not going anywhere.”

Abby Hines, Staff Writer

Imam Taha Hassane, Director of the Islamic Center of San Diego, emphasized the importance of identifying, understanding and preventing discrimination within the Islamic community during a Cultural Unity Week/ Festival of Colors event at Mesa College on Apr. 10th.

Hassane spoke to approximately 50 Mesa students during a speech about Islam. He opened with a greeting of Islam, “Asalaam alaykum,” meaning “Peace be with you.” The Islamic response, “Wa ’alaykum asalaam” from the audience translates to, “And peace be with you too.” He ensured the audience that they were in a safe place that allows for “candid conversation”.

According to Hassane, “Islamophobia is a huge industry in the U.S., and unfortunately a lot of people benefit from the discrimination”.

The industry of Islamophobia is “about spreading fear, fear about Islam, making people feel scared, uncomfortable, whenever they are around Muslims or a Muslim is around a group of people. Muslims are always, according to Islamophobia, a source of violence, a source of threat to our lifestyle, to our society.” said Hassane.

There are about 80 thousand Muslims and roughly 23 mosques dispersed throughout San Diego County. In response to people who believe that all Muslims are Arabs and that all Arabs are Muslims, Hassane said, “The Muslim community is the most diverse, ethnically diverse community, when I tell you that Muslims in San Diego came from all over the world I mean it.” This was also a way to let the audience know that there are more people than they realize that belong to the Muslim community.

“The true Muslim is the one who is considered as a source of peace and guidance in the society. Once you start feeling threatened, scared, because of a suspicious behavior about somebody who claims to be a Muslim, then there is something wrong in that situation, because a Muslim is supposed to be a source of peace and guidance in society.” and that “The Muslim seeks to achieve peace through submitting to the will of God,” said Hassane.

Sharia is the Muslim profession of faith, the practical side of Islam. “Sharia unfortunately just became a really scary word, you know ‘Sharia outlaw’, and I’m saying this because this concept of shariah is misunderstood, it became a social threat. I don’t know if you have heard about several states in our nation passing a law to ban sharia, for me as a Muslim this is a very very serious matter, Shariah for me is the way I practice Islam, praying five times a day is sharia, sharing my wealth with the poor, with the needy, with the homeless is Shariah…”, “So when you say banning sharia law, that means that Muslims are not allowed to practice their faith in that specific state.” Hassane expressed.

“What is happening is a social contemporary problem and for many of us these types of issues (Islamophobia) are talked about as a phenomenon of the past, in reality it is a phenomenon of the present and our aspiration, I know mine in particular, are to prevent that from being a phenomenon of the future.” said Dr. Judy Sundayo, Diversity Committee Chair of Mesa College.

“Fear is a result of ignorance,” Said Hassane. The fear people have comes from the ignorance of not knowing about others, their culture, background and/or beliefs. Ignorance is led simultaneously by maintaining distance from those who are different, thus being unwilling to learn, and help grow as not only a nation but a globe. “We are not just American, we are not just Californian; we are members of the global community and there is a responsibility” said Dr. Sundayo.

Hassane encouraged the audience to help promote and maintain diversity throughout our nation. He says we need to be educated and keep up with the social and civic dialogue because there is always something to learn. “We need to reach out to one another and collaborate efforts to push for human rights.” Said Hassane.