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North Carolina

Students Rally Against Anti-Arab Hate Crime

by staff |
February 18, 2007
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Greensboro, NC - Students from colleges across North Carolina rallied Feb. 2 against a recent hate crime committed against three Palestinian students at Guilford College. The regional protest was organized by the University of North Carolina at Asheville Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter and UNC-Chapel Hill Solidarity with Palestine through Education and Action at Carolina (SPEAC). UNC-Chapel Hill SDS helped to mobilize students for the demonstration.

The three Palestinian students at Guilford College were attacked and beaten by fifteen Guilford football players on Jan. 20. The victims, Faris Khadar, Osama Sabbah and Omar Awartani, were residence neighbors with the assailants and had no history of violence. They were kicked and beaten with fists, bricks and brass knuckles, while being called 'terrorists' and 'sand n___' among other racial slurs. One received nerve damage in his hand, another a fractured nose, and the third a fractured jaw, according to the students' attorney. Only five of the fifteen alleged assailants were arrested.

Following the brutal attack, Guilford students took it upon themselves to organize a mass walk-out in protest of the attack and to call for justice. Bryan Dellinger, one of the student organizers, explained how the unplanned protest came together.

"There were about eight core people who organized the walk-out," said Dellinger. "It was on the 25th of January, and around 300 students total walked out in protest. It was an opportunity for everyone - students, faculty and community members - for people to share their thoughts and feelings about what happened. It was a really positive experience."

A week later, SDS chapters, SPEAC, and other progressive organizations at UNC-Asheville and UNC-Chapel Hill were quick to mobilize local actions on their campuses. Calling for an end to anti-Arab attacks and discrimination, SDSers handed out flyers, discussed ways to show solidarity to Guilford students and demand action from the administration.

"We will not tolerate violence or bigotry in our communities," said Haley Koch, of the UNC-Chapel Hill SPEAC. "We want to send a clear message of compassion, solidarity and inclusion to marginalized communities in North Carolina, the United States and across the globe."

As of yet, there still has been no timely response of the Guilford administration in determining whether the attack qualifies as a hate crime or not. The case is being tried in the Guilford Judicial Board and may take several weeks longer for results. Greensboro police have stated that they dropped their investigation due to supposed lack of evidence.

Students in North Carolina and across the country have voiced strong opposition to attacks on oppressed nationalities. In the wake of 911 and the ongoing Iraq War, anti-Arab hate crimes and Islamophobia have risen throughout the U.S. and must be countered with mass mobilization, education and protest. Swift justice is needed for those who are the victims of such oppression.

If you would like to help, please call or contact the Guilford College president's office at 336-316-2146 to demand a swift and thorough investigation.