Campus carry paired with rising islamophobia creates dangerous environment for Muslim students

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Muslim Austinites head to “Muslim Capitol Day,” where protesters awaited them on Jan. 29.
Photo Credit: Michael Baez | Daily Texan Staff

Anti-Islam rallies were held in more than 20 U.S. cities this past weekend — organized by open carry gun advocate group called the Global Rally for Humanity — in an alleged attempt to fight against radical Islam. Dallas, Houston and Corpus Christi were among the cities in which the rallies took place.

It has been tradition for many extremist “pro-American” advocacy groups to rally against what they perceive to be anti-American, often with guns and American paraphernalia to symbolize their efforts. According to a recent Gallup poll, protests are something that many Muslim communities have been seeing lately, especially with the recent rise in Islamophobia in America.

The largest religious group other than Christianity in the state of Texas is Islam, according to the 2010 U.S. Religion Census, with a fair amount of Muslim students within the UT system. UT has diverse student voices and activism, but introducing campus carry would discourage Muslim students and other minority voices from expressing views properly due to fear-mongering.

“The reason why they use guns during these protests is to instill fear in the Muslim community,” Omair Siddiqi, outreach coordinator for the DFW chapter for Council on American-Islamic Relations, said. “We are seeing an increase in Islamophobic rhetoric from elected officials, therefore more ‘patriots’ are using guns to add to their statements of hate.”

Hate crime against Muslims is still five times as common today as it was prior to 9/11 — it is the second highest rate of hate crimes in America. These hate crimes are constantly on the news. Notable crimes occurred in Chapel Hill, Dallas and Houston — all of which have resulted in gun violence. As the number of places that allow guns increases, especially in an environment like UT, there will be an increase in acts of Islamophobia.

“I think that the idea of access to guns in relation to Muslim students and their safety increases the state of uncomfortability on campus,” said Omar Salim, Vice President of UT’s Muslim Students Association and architecture senior. “It’s a challenge to approach racial tension and bigotry, and increasing the possibility of people to have access to places with guns increases the risk of identifying Muslim on campus.”

Although the campus carry legislation only affects students 21 years or older with a concealed carry license, it does become impetus for the possibility of being a racial minority and identifying as Muslim as dangerous. The growing rate of Islamophobia, paired with lenient gun policies, has seen to be dangerous for Muslims everywhere else in the country. There should be no reason why the same pattern will occur right here at UT.

Choudhury is an economics freshman from Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter @mubarratc.