At 12:45 p.m., there were roughly 10 people at the Solidarity with Refugees and Against Deportations rally on Thompson Hall (T-Hall) on Wednesday afternoon. Toward the end, more than 100 students, faculty, community members and administrators showed their support for Muslims on campus and around the country.
Freshman economics major and chair of public relations for the Middle Eastern Cultural Association, Nooran Al-Hamdan, organized the rally.
“I was watching CNN on Saturday and what I was watching was crazy: people getting discriminated against for their religion or where they come from. I knew I wasn’t the only one like this; I am on the Student Senate as well,” Al-Hamdan said. “I know people have expressed outrage about this, so I shot my friends a text and said, ‘we’ve got to do something.’ We can’t just talk about angry we are, we have to do something.”
President Mark Huddleston attended the rally to show his support.
“Our international students and faculty and staff are an integral part of the University of New Hampshire. I think many of them feel threatened and besieged right now and I think it’s important to show our support,” Huddleston said.
Commenting on his first reactions after hearing about the ban, Huddleston criticized the Trump Administration for the decision and its chaotic implementation of the ban.
“It [Trump Administration] struck me as just kinda a keystone cops operation, they don’t seem to know what they’re doing and it’s not clear that it was very well thought out, it was not implemented in a way that one would expect from a sophisticated executive branch operation, so it just struck me as a circus. Unfortunately it was a circus that had the potential of hurting a lot of people, and no real gain. I worry very much that this plays exactly into the hands of those who would do us harm, it’s a propaganda victory for terrorism and I think that’s especially unfortunate,” Huddleston said.
Freshman Abdul Aziz, born and raised in Qatar, said that after seeing what had happened, something needed to be done. Aziz is here on a student visa and fears he may not be able to come back if he goes home. Qatar isn’t on the ban list, but there is a possibility that the country will be added.
“We need to stand up as a community, as Wildcats and try to explain everything, explain our side of the problem. We’re showing them that not every Muslim is a terrorist. We’re here to study, not to make a problem. Hopefully, they’ll listen to us… After hearing about the ban, I was scared. I hope I can go home this summer to see my family… With all of these people protesting, hopefully they’re going to listen to us and change the rules,” Aziz said.
Senior vice provost of student affairs and Dean of Students Ted Kirkpatrick also attended the rally.
“I think that [Huddleston has] been clear that any university has a moral obligation to protect the safety of its students, faculty and staff and that universities historically have been places where intellectuals, scientists, artists, have always gone beyond borders. So, I think that a lot of universities are concerned when there’s an effort to truncate that,” Kirkpatrick said.
Al-Hamdan said that she is hopeful after the show of support from the UNH community.
“People, regardless of their background, or where they’re from, were equally outraged. It makes me feel hopeful for the future. Regardless of what happens on the federal level, on the local level things will always be okay,” Al-Hamdan said.