Muslim students lead open prayer in Main Mall to protest potential new law

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Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

Nearly 50 Muslim students openly prayed Wednesday in the Main Mall to protest an Israeli bill that would restrict mosques’ call to prayer.

The Israeli government is considering a bill that bans mosques in Jerusalem — including Al-Aqsa, one of the holiest mosques of Islam — from announcing the call to prayer, or adhan, aloud. The adhan, which is played loudly enough to be heard across the city, was deemed disruptive for non-Muslim citizens, according to The New York Times. 

Government senior Kareem Abdi, who regularly leads prayers at the Nueces Mosque in West Campus, performed the adhan over a loud speaker.

“I have to stand up for my religion, especially in this time when my religion is being banned from a country that’s very holy, very sacred,” Abdi said. “If I wasn’t standing up for my Palestinian brothers and sisters, it would definitely be a shame.”

Second-year law student Noor Wadi, an organizer of the event, said she can’t imagine not hearing the centuries-old adhan play when she visits Jerusalem.

“Listening to the call to prayer is one of the most healing, soothing, beautiful experiences, and to know that in the future I won’t have the privilege of hearing that, that’s one of the many things that makes this such an awful law,” Wadi said.

As students prayed on a lawn of the Main Mall, about 20 others created a barrier around them and silently held signs that read “Protect Muslims” and “No to state-sanctioned Islamophobia.”

Although she isn’t personally affected by the new law, petroleum engineering senior Faith Carter, who attended the event, said she feels it is a crucial issue.

“I think everyone has a duty to recognize that just because it doesn’t impact you directly, it’s important to pay attention to,” Carter said. “It’s important to show as much solidarity as I can with the Palestinian people here, especially with some of the new policies coming out of Israel.”

Sustainability studies sophomore Karina Gonzalez, who held a sign at the event, said she opposes the bill.

“It’s kind of ridiculous, they’re just praying,” Gonzalez said. “I think [it would be] an affront to their rights.”

Wadi said she wanted to make others on campus aware of the issues Muslims face abroad, because she believes Muslims in the U.S. could face the same problems.

“The fears that we have as Muslim-Americans under Trump, those are the fears that Muslims in other countries are facing — it’s their reality,” Wadi said. “We see what they’re going through, and we won’t sit and let that happen silently.”

This story has been updated since its initial publication. An earlier version said the proposed Israeli legislation had already passed.