Students rally for peace after attack on Muslim student

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SAN DIEGO -- In response to an attack on a Muslim student last week, San Diego State University students are rallying against Islamophobia.

Campus police say the attack may have been backlash following the recent attacks on Paris. During that attack, a man ripped off a student’s hijab or headscarf and then began to yell racial slurs at her.

Students called Monday for witnesses of the crime to come forward, and are asking fellow students for tolerance.

Students began the rally with a Muslim prayer in the middle of the campus. SDSU's Muslim Student Association gathered to call on witnesses to come forward following an apparent Islamophobic attack on a female student on Thursday.

“A lot of stares and a lot of looks, people treat me differently," said Tessa Wiley of the SDSU Muslim Student Association.

Students like Wiley say she lives with the stereotypes and hate on a daily basis. She says attacks like the one last week on campus are unacceptable.

“Specifically with ISIS, and any sort of terrorist attacks, does not reflect our religion...Of course we condemn it, but I would hope at some point we could stop having to constantly apologize and constantly say this is not us, this is not our religion cause this is something we pretty much have to do every single day," Wiley said.

She says fellow students and staff need to "create a more inclusive campus climate” and promote understanding and acceptance between different cultures and religions."

“We don’t want to live in fear, we don’t want to hide in our houses, we don’t want to change who we are as Muslims and who we are as people, so I think the biggest challenge is just trying to not let it affect us affect us emotionally and also not create fear," Wiley said.

Randy Timm, SDSU's Dean of Students, says it always one of the school’s main priorities to promote a better environment for all students.

“I think that we can always do better. And I think our students today are going to be talking about that. They’ll have a list of things that they want to talk about that will get vetted by the administration and the students will talk with the administration with regards to what we can do," Timm said.

A list of the group's demands, which has been posted to its Facebook page, also included a zero-tolerance policy for Islamophobic rhetoric and actions on campus, mandatory training for faculty, staff and students, more coursework on Islam in an effort to alleviate misconceptions toward Muslim students and for administrators and government officials to "address, alleviate and eliminate systems of oppression that disproportionately target people of color, women and all marginalized students on campus."

“Diversity is wrapped into almost everything we do here at the university. It’s at a point where we now need to empower our students to be able to stand up to it and take their words and speak out against it," Timm said.

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