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Campus stands with Muslims

By Chris O'Connell Special to the Daily Planet
Saturday September 15, 2001

While there have been many reports of insults and crimes against Muslims in the wake of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks, members of the UC Berkeley community stood in solidarity with the Muslim community Friday afternoon. 

Six hundred people gathered to take part in an open campus Jumaa – a Friday prayer ceremony – in the Pauley Ballroom of the Martin Luther King building on campus. They came both in a show of unity against recent attacks on Muslims, and in remembrance for the those killed in New York and Washington D.C.  

Citing “many, many instances of harassment” that have occurred against Muslims across the country since Tuesday, Hatem Baziah, a lecturer at U.C. Berkeley who gave the sermon, said the ceremony was intended as spiritual refuge for the community as a whole. 

“In times of crisis and tragedy, people need a place where they can process and deal with complex emotions.”  

Non-Muslims outnumbered Muslims two-to-one at the afternoon event which was sponsored by the Muslim Students Association and the student government.  

For many, it was a new experience. 

Patricia Mueller-Moule, a doctoral student at UC Berkeley who has never attended a prayer ceremony before, said she wanted Muslims to know that they are respected members of the community.  

“By coming here we are showing solidarity with a group that has been wrongly equated with terrorists.”  

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl, who spoke before the prayer ceremony, stressed the need for unity in the wake of Tuesday’s events. 

Berdahl said he attended the community prayer sessions, “for the same reason everyone else did. Out of a need to feel a part of a very diverse human family that’s been vastly injured this week.” 

Recitations of the Qu’ran were in Arabic, and translated into English. 

In his sermon, Baziah stressed that while the suspects in Tuesday’s attacks may be Muslim, their political views are in the minority. 

“If the reports are accurate, some Muslims have committed this act. It doesn’t represent Muslims in general, rather it was isolated individuals.” 

Likewise, he added that the recent acts of harassment against Muslims have been perpetrated by isolated individuals.  

“These people who committed these acts are in the minority, similar to those who committed the attacks in New York and Washington.” 

Muslims attending the event said they were overwhelmed by the tremendous support from the campus community. 

“Berkeley has taken the initiative to involve and invite everyone in prayer. Hopefully, this forum and this event will set a precedent for the rest of the country,” said Muslim Student Association member Wajahat Ali.