Reina Sultan (Jordan)

Reina Sultan recently graduated from UCSB with honors as a Political Science major (International Relations) and French minor. As a student fundraiser and subsequently a fundraising supervisor at the UCSB Annual Fund, she raised nearly $170,000 for student resource programs. She strove to involve herself in several organizations, holding leadership positions in both her sorority and Associated Students over the course of several years. During her junior year, she was awarded the prestigious Philip & Aida Siff Educational Foundation Scholarship in recognition of her academic achievements. While interning in Washington D.C. that same year, she was given the opportunity to represent UCSB at UC Day, a yearly event aimed at lobbying California representatives to better serve the UC system. She just ended her time working as an English teaching assistant in France, where she worked with high school students in priority education zones. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with Collateral Repair Project in Amman, Jordan. The daughter of Lebanese refugees, she feels very strongly about advocating for and volunteering with refugee communities displaced by violence. After returning from Jordan, Reina recounted her time there by saying, "I wish I could express in words how meaningful and formative my time with CRP was. AP gave me the opportunity to work with and amplify the voices of beautiful, resilient refugee women in Amman, Jordan. I urge everyone with the means and privilege to make change with an organization like CRP to seize that opportunity immediately".

Reflecting on… Islamophobia

09 Jun

“Enough with the killing. There’s been enough blood…”– A Muslim refugee from Iraq the day after the June 3rd London attacks.

For some, his response may be surprising. Some people believe that Muslims in the Middle East rejoice when hearing the news of a terrorist attack in the west. Those people may also believe that closing our borders to refugees will help protect us from terrorism. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a lot of parts of Islamophobia that I could talk about, but I want to focus on two: that refugees aren’t fleeing to bring terror to the west and that if you are prejudiced toward or scared of Muslims, there is something you can do.

Let’s start with the fact that Daesh (ISIL) kills more Muslims than anyone else. All examples below are from a UN report from 2014.
• On 31 August, reports received indicated that 19 Sunni were executed in Saadiya by ISIL for not pledging allegiance to them.
• On 22 July, ISIL killed a Sunni Imam in eastern Baquba because he had denounced the organization. Reports allege that on 9 September, another Imam was executed in western Mosul for failing to declare his fealty to ISIL.
• On 28 August, seven individuals, allegedly Sunni, were executed by ISIL after being condemned to death.
• ISIL directly targeted members of ISF and police or those associating with them, who did not ‘repent’ (in the case of Sunni or Shi’a) or who refused to pledge their fealty to ISIL and its self-proclaimed ‘Caliph’. In one particular serious incident referred to in UNAMI/OHCHR previous report, 1500 soldiers and security force personnel from former Camp Speicher military Base in Salah al-Din were captured and killed around 12 June.

If Muslims wanted so badly to kill so-called infidels, why would the biggest terror organization be killing so many Muslims? And why would so many Muslims rather die than pledge allegiance to them? If you think that you’re going to get me here I would like to share with you that that infamous Quran passage about killing infidels is taken wildly out of context and refers to a long series of battles between followers of Islam and Meccan tribes who kept following them to Medina to fight, not just killing random people going about their business. If that doesn’t convince you, I would like to turn your attention to Deuteronomy 17: 3-5 or Deuteronomy 13: 6-16 to show that ALL religious texts have parts that seem to go completely against the peace and love they preach throughout the rest of the text. Most of us, Christian and Muslim, understand that these parts should not be taken literally because that kind of violence is repugnant.

Ignoring the fact that Muslim refugees are risking their lives to flee Daesh, governments who use chemical weaponry, and Russian war planes, we are still left with the fact that a huge number of refugees are Christian. What’s more is that they are living in similar communities with Muslim refugees and getting along just fine. So, if your argument against letting in refugees centers on all of them being Muslim extremists there are multiple reasons why you are wrong, including but not limited to the fact that they aren’t all Muslims. They are, however, bonded by the fact that their situations were so horrific that they would risk their lives and their families’ lives to leave. They were willing to cross deserts and seas to safety and security. They weren’t doing these things to terrorize the countries that welcome them.

If after all of that, you still find yourself feeling like Muslims are just not your cup of tea, I invite you to do the following. Admit your prejudice to a Muslim and ask for help. That sounds like the antithesis of what a prejudiced person wants to/ should do, but I promise it is a good call. Here are some examples to make you feel warm and tingly inside:

This post really came after a hard week of hearing about terrorist attack after terrorist attack, Islamophobic incident after Islamophobic incident. All the while, I was getting to know refugee families with huge hearts, both Muslim and Christian. Their positivity and good humor almost make you forget that they are refugees, but they still need our help. If you want to help the women I am working with feel empowered and generate income for their families, make sure to look out for a Global Giving Campaign on June 20th, International Refugee Day. Global Giving will be matching donations 100%! This is a great opportunity to make a huge difference, so I hope you’re able to help out or know someone that can.

Posted By Reina Sultan (Jordan)

Posted Jun 9th, 2017

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