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UNM Voices Weigh in on Antisemitism and Islamophobia

UNM student walkout in support of Palestine, Nov. 9, 2023
Omar Eldenawi
Leena Aggad, Muslim Student Union
UNM student walkout in support of Palestine, Nov. 9, 2023

This story explores the question of antisemitism and Islamophobia on the University of New Mexico campus in the wake of the war in Gaza.

On October 7, the terrorist group known as Hamas launched a surprise attack from Gaza against Israel, killing 1200 people and taking more than 200 hostages. The next day Israel declared war on Hamas. The death toll numbers in the thousands and is growing. And the 1.7 million Palestinian refugees inside Gaza now face severe shortages of food, housing, medicine, water and fuel.

The current war has sparked protests, vigils and incidents on college campuses across the U.S. At American University, a Palestinian staff member found a note under his door saying: Go back where you came from and Death to all Palestinians. At Cornell, a student was arrested for threats to kill Jewish people. At Berkley, students were offered extra credit for attending a pro-Gaza rally. And in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a woman is caught on video harassing a Muslim graduate student for wearing a “terrorist” scarf.

So what’s the situation here at home? Are antisemitism and Islamophobia alive and well on the University of New Mexico campus? The answer is yes and no. To find out more, KSFR talked with Jewish and Muslim student representatives at the university.

KSFR thanks Sara Koplik, Leena Aggad, Nathaniel Fisher and Omar Faruk for their insights and contributions to this story.

Mary Lou Cooper reports on consumer issues for KSFR as well as on politics and elder affairs. She has worked for the U.S. Congress as well as for the Nevada and Tennessee legislatures, and remains a political junkie. She worked many years for an association of Western state legislatures and was a contributor to “Capitol Ideas,” a national magazine about state government. In 2016 Cooper received a public service award from the New Mexico Broadcasting Association for her KSFR story on Internet romance scams. She has received journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and from the National Federation of Press Women. She grew up in Oak Ridge, TN and received her BA from Emory University in Atlanta and her MA from the University of Texas Austin. She also holds fiction and screenwriting certificates from the University of Washington.