Gettysburg College Muslim Solidarity Rally draws hundreds for dance and celebration
By Daniella Snyder, Editor-in-Chief
Over 300 students, faculty members, and community members joined together on the steps on Penn Hall in solidarity with Muslim members of campus and the town in response to Robert Spencer’s lecture in the CUB ballroom Wednesday evening.
Green ribbons were distributed for people to wear to show their support, along with green fabric donning the phrase, “Hate has no home here”, and “No Islamophobia”.
Jerome Clarke, ’17, welcomed everyone to the event. “When there are those that are suffering, we stand. We are out here to celebrate and love each other,” Clarke said. Clarke introduced the Nawaz Brothers, a Qawwali band, to perform.
Qawwali is a type of Sufi devotional music that originated over 700 years ago in South Asia.
One of the band members addressed the crowd. “We are family. We must rise. We must stick together,” he said.
After a few songs, Chaplain Donnella spoke to the group on the importance of interfaith solidarity. “We are here because we are human,” he said. Donnella concluded by quoting Desmond Tutu, a South African social rights activist and former Anglican bishop.
“Goodness is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. We will prevail. We shall prevail through God, who loves us,” he said.
Donnella then introduced Rev. Dr. Kristin Johnston Largen, who will be a chaplain at Gettysburg College starting this July. “To be clear,” she said, “the goal of interfaith friendship is about celebrating and protecting them, cherishing their uniqueness. We are stronger together, because we are different. Those differences make us beautiful, as individuals and as a community,” she said.
“We are first and foremost part of the great human family. Our call is to be light to the world. We have been blessed to be a blessing to others,” Largen concluded.
The Nawaz Brothers started playing music again. This time, students stood up and began to dance in front of Penn Hall. Faculty members began to join in, and even President Janet Morgan Riggs danced in the crowd.
Riggs explained her reasoning for attending the Muslim Solidarity Rally. “I wanted to support the Muslim members of our community and because I feel very proud of the students who organized the event. This is a great way to show how the community can come together and support each other, and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.
The dancing continued for thirty minutes, and the crowd cheered throughout. Students expressed positive sentiments about the event, considering it a true celebration.
Jeff White, ’17, while dancing in the crowd, said, “I am overjoyed. This is true joy. I feel genuine appreciation for everyone here,” White said.
Haya Mohanna, ’17, reflected on being a Muslim student at the Solidarity Rally. “Between the event on Sunday and the event today, I could cry. I didn’t expect people to take the time to come out and support us. It warms my heart, and gives me hope about the future of this campus,” Mohanna said.
Caroline Kinne, ’19, the media representative for the event, expressed her joy for the turnout of the event. “I am really excited that there are so many people here to support the Muslim community. This is about showing peace and solidarity, not anything else. To our Muslim students and faculty members, please know that we are with you,” Kinne said.
To conclude the event, two students called for everyone to hold hands for a moment of silence.
Laila Mufty, ‘18, one of the organizers of the event, thanked the crowd for coming. “While state troopers and borough police bombarded this campus today, it made my day easier knowing that you all stood in support with me. Thank you for the peace and love,” Mufty said.