Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper

The Independent

What does NEIU think of Islam?

Idoia Solano, Staff Writer

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If NEIU had to be described with one word, diverse would be it. Our campus is formed by students, professors and other staff that come from different cultural backgrounds, practice various religions and speak several languages.

The Muslim community represents a considerable portion of the students at NEIU. So much so, that NEIU has a room dedicated for Salah, the Arabic word for prayer, on the second floor of the Student Union.

Lately, Muslims have been the target of our political institutions, the most clear example being President Trump’s new travel ban that blatantly discriminates people from the Middle East.

Does this discrimination take place as well within Northeastern campus? The general perception is that NEIU is a discrimination – free campus, where all the students find a place to freely profess their religion and culture without feeling judged.

“This is a diverse campus, we have a lot of different people and I don’t see a giant dominating race here. It seems to be all pretty blended,” said Fabian Steele, a communications major. He also acknowledged having friends that practice Islam, but not on campus.

However, other interviewed students admit to be pretty uneducated about this religion.

“I never was able to learn more about their culture, or not as much as I think I should know.” said Morelia Diaz, a student at NEIU.

Others had some sense of Islam and its culture.

“I’m personally not religious at this moment, but I do know a little bit about Islam because I took a class about it in high school,” said Zach Lugo. “I learned how committed people of this culture are.”He also said that this has given him a newfound respect for Islam’s culture.

For Muslim students, NEIU represents a place of freedom and respect.

“We’ve never felt that we weren’t part of the place. We have never had any bad experience, per se,” said Hesham, a 29-year-old Saudi Arabian communications major.. Hesham has been in Chicago for more than a year and has lived in Scotland and London. He practices Islam and perceives NEIU as a “very welcoming place for everyone” regardless of the religion they practice.

Ayesha Khalid’s, 22, says that NEIU is very accepting of Islam.

“It’s very diverse, so I haven’t faced any problem because of my religion,” Khalid said. “People here are very respectful and open-minded towards each other, so I’m glad to say that I’ve never witnessed discrimination against Muslims or any other religion. I haven’t seen even one person at NEIU who would look at me differently because of my Hijab.”

The Muslim Student Association on campus is focused on helping Muslim students through their college experience. Nida Kidwai, president of the MSA, emphasized they attempt to include “anyone and everyone” in every event they do, whether they are Muslim or not.

The association’s main goal, as she explains, is to “make Muslims on campus feel like they belong, because there’s a place for them to go and feel safe and secure.”

Respect and positive attitudes towards diversity exude out NEIU’s student body, making campus a place where everybody can feel free to be themselves.

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