This letter is to state that King’s College London’s Intersectional Feminist Society stands in solidarity with our Muslim Community here at King’s following the abhorrent acts that occurred last Friday (04/03/2016). For those who are not fully aware, two white men approached the sisters manning an Islam Awareness Week stall and began verbally attacking them. This eventually escalated to physical threats of violence, and a fellow sister had her niqab (full-face veil) pulled off by one of the men. For a complete run down on what happened, you can refer to the Roar article or refer to Issa Ruhani’s post on the KCL Islamic Society page. However it is key to note here that not only did security fail to act in protecting Muslim students, but that the University has falsely reported the event to put themselves in a better light, where they have argued that they intervened with what happened. What actually occurred was that it was left to a Muslim brother to place himself in between the sisters and the perpetrators. It was only when senior staff were called that that action was taken, i.e. calling the police
What this letter of solidarity would like to make clear is four things:
(1) There is a growing atmosphere of aggressive Islamophobia, in not just this University and other educational institutions but across the nation. This attack is just one example of the climate of fear and oppression Muslim students have had to mitigate against and navigate while attending this University.
(2) The University has proven itself to be racist and Islamophobic in its deployment of ‘safety’ and ‘security’ over the past months.
(3) Right now is the time for our wider student body to rally behind our Muslim community, specifically our Muslim women, and commit to obtaining justice for what has happened.
(4) Combating racism and Islamophobia at this institution and in wider society is integral to an intersectional approach. We urge all other liberation societies to join us in condemning these events, pushing for a full inquiry, and supporting the Islamic Society during this time.
This attack is unfortunately not a new story for Muslim people in Britain. Already this year we have heard in the news countless examples of Muslim people – frequently Muslim women – being physically assaulted by predominantly white men. From this we can assume that countless more cases have occurred that have not reached national news. It is important to stress that this attack was an explicitly gendered form of Islamophobia,a growing reality for Muslim women here in the West. What we can say however is that at King’s, this event is a tipping point– thanks to the committed work of POC at King’s, and the fact that ISoc have a safe and protected space to organise, this event will not be pushed into obscurity.
It is incredibly important that people reflect on how this response by the University and the security staff is racialised. This attack has come after countless events where an disproportionate amount of security has been repeatedly brought onto campus for peaceful protests, film screenings, and panel events. When our POC association held a peaceful protest to obtain a meeting regarding the BME attainment gap they were faced with a wall of security and police officers: a message clearly stating that the wider student body was to be protected from them. Yesterday female Muslim students were verbally and physically attacked, and security did not intervene. A clear message that Muslim students are not seen as individuals worth protecting in the same light.
At this moment in time King’s students, and various King’s societies, should be reflecting on this injustice and position themselves to be ready to support ISoc and our Muslim community in whatever call for action is voiced. This is especially the case for white allies who need to show the University that when they fail to defend Muslim students, and later report falsehoods about what happened, that they will have the scrutiny of the whole student body on their hands.