Students, staff, faculty, administration, priests, elected officials, and the Muslim-American mayor of Prospect Park gathered on the Green Jan. 31 to call for peace in the wake of President Donald J. Trump’s executive order to temporarily bar citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
Although the temperature was in the low 30s and fresh snow was on the ground, the crowd of approximately 50 stood together to listen to the prayers and statements.
Aamna Aamir, president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and junior biology major, opened the event with the Muslim greeting, “As-salāmu ʿalaykum,” which translates to “peace be upon you.” Others in the crowd echoed the statement in return.
After the event, Aamir said that she saw many different people in the crowd and that both those who were affected by the executive order and those for whom it had no immediate personal impact attended to show support. She said that the goal of unity and tolerance the MSA had for the event was achieved.
Mohammed Syed, a junior diplomacy major and member of the MSA and Arabic Speaking Club, also spoke at the gathering. “In terms of showing presence and showing support against the Muslim ban I think is really critical on this campus, especially in terms of creating a discussion and conversation about it and having that kind of physical presence on the Green I think is really important,” he said.
Thaha Sherwani, vice president of the Arabic Speaking Club and member of the MSA as well as a senior diplomacy major, helped organize the gathering. “I thought the Seton Hall community should come together to show that we are a community that accepts everyone and we stand united,” Sherwani said. He said the presence of administration, professors, faculty, priests and students encouraging to the Muslim community.
Passaic County Freeholder and SHU alumni, Assad R. Akhter, and Mohamed Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, were both invited by the MSA to support the SHU community at the gathering.
In his speech, Akhter stated that he was proud of those who came to the gathering. “We did not choose to divide ourselves, we choose to stand together,” Akhter said.
Khairullah said that he had fled Syria to escape the uprising in 1980 and eventually came to the United States. He said that America is great because of the people in it and the people who are coming into it.
In his speech, Khairullah said, “It took [Trump] nothing but 10 days after swearing to protect the Constitution and the law to step all over the Constitution and walk all over the law.” To this statement, most of the crowd reacted with a nod, “yes” or “hmhm.”
Rev. Msgr. Robert Wister also spoke at the gathering by reciting a prayer and reading a recent statement from the Archbishop of Newark, Joseph Cardinal Tobin.
“Wednesday’s executive actions does not show the United States to be an open and welcoming nation. They are the opposite of what it means to be American. Closing borders and building walls are not rational acts,” said the archbishop’s statement that was read to the crowd.
Wister then asked the crowd to help refugees by donating supplies to Catholic Charities.
“Seton Hall University is very proud of you,” Wister said, ending his speech.
Sarah Yenesel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.