In hopes of inspiring the Phillips Academy Muslim community, Nadeem Mazen ’02, Cambridge City Councillor, accepted the invitation of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) to discuss potential solutions and support toward overcoming the threats Muslims Americans face today.
His presentation last Wednesday in the Freemen room was especially significant as it reacted toward the recent Presidential Executive Order banning the travel from seven Muslim nations.
Sawsan AlShaiba ’18, a mem ber of the MSA, said, “because he is a young Muslim and he’s done so much work throughout his career, we thought that [the] PA community would appreciate him as… a successful American Muslim that they can look up to and be like, ‘Oh, we can be something, we can succeed, we are a part of this community.’ “
Mazen proposed three ways to become a Muslim ally, and stressed the significance that just fifteen people can make.
“[Fifteen people] can raise enough money for a [humanitarian aid company] group like CARE to hire another full time employee. When CARE hired its full-time staff attorney, the way we responded to immigration, to the executive orders by Trump, to a whole host of things, [it] totally changed,” said Mazen in his presentation.
Mazen also highlighted the need for people to stand up against racial stereotypes and targeting, including articles and fake news that focus on attacking Muslim culture. educating people about Islam and unreliable media sources can assist in preventing racism and xenophobia.
“One needs to know how to consume media and how to talk about all kinds of things, but [specifically] ethnic groups, religious groups, security, etcetera, in a very measured, very productive way. It doesn’t help anyone if we’re talking across purposes or if we’re scapegoating people,” said Mazen in an interview with The Phillipian.
Mazen’s final step to help the Muslim community was to simply “show up,” which means attending fundraisers, being a reliable ally, and using privilege to help people who are being suppressed.
Abdelaziz Bahnasy ’17, a member of the Muslim community at Andover, expressed his hope that Mazen’s presentation would help build empathy and lead to progress in the fight to change negative perceptions of Islam.
“If we can get ourselves to shift our focus from big picture political conversations to those human beings on our level and trying to help those around us were going to be able to make progress,” said Bahnasy.