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Hundreds protest after hate crime report at SDSU

SDSU students and others march in protest of acts of hatred and intolerance against Muslims and other groups.
SDSU students and others march in protest of acts of hatred and intolerance against Muslims and other groups.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

About 400 people participated in a march and demonstration Monday at San Diego State in response to a report of a hate crime against a Muslim student last week.

“When Muslim women are under attack, what do we do?” a student called out to the crowd.

“Stand up, fight back!” marchers responded in a chant that continued as the crowd walked from the center of campus to the student union, where several speakers denounced acts of hatred and intolerance against Muslims and other groups.

A white man in his 20s grabbed a female Muslim student’s headscarf in a campus parking lot Thursday afternoon and made racist comments to her, campus police said.

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SDSU police Lt. Randy Lawrence said Monday that no suspect has been identified.

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“The attacker came at the student from behind and choked her with the hijab, or headscarf,” said Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-San Diego, who met with the student. “He told her, ‘Get out of this country.’ That she was a terrorist and that ‘You people bombed Paris.’”

Yasser Kaziha of the SDSU Muslim Student Assn. said he, too, met with the student, a friend who he said does not want to be identified.

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“When the attack on our Muslim sister happened here at SDSU, she felt alone after bystanders and witnesses who watched the attack did nothing,” he said. “However, she let me know that the support she received has made her stronger and more hopeful after the attack happened.”

Mohebi said the woman wants students to speak out “not only against acts of violence like this, but the bigoted words, beliefs and ignorance that lead to acts of violence.”

Mohebi called for SDSU to hold educational forums to discuss those issues.

SDSU Dean of Students Randy Timm, who also spoke at the rally, said he thought such forums were a good idea and would be supported by the administration.

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gary.warth@sduniontribune.com

Gary Warth writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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