Muslim Student Association’s Eid Banquet takes place during police response to pro-Palestine protests

and | Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Editor and News Editor

(Elizabeth Stump | Student Life)

Washington University’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) hosted its annual Eid dinner in Hillman Hall’s Clark-Fox Forum to celebrate the year’s end, which took place from 6-9 p.m. on April 27. The event took place in view of the pro-Palestine protest and encampment and the ensuing arrests on the East End of campus

The dinner experienced some adjustments due to the police response to the concurrent pro-Palestine protest. Washington University Police Department (WUPD) blocked off parking to the garages near Hillman. 

First-year Noor Huda brought her family to the dinner. She said she and her family were uncomfortable with what they believed to be an excessive police presence for a nonviolent protest.

“The police have been clear that their presence there is to protect us, but their protection feels very, very threatening,” Huda said. “That’s not just from me, but also my family, who felt very uncomfortable with the amount of police cars reacting to a peaceful protest.”

Huda’s father, Taukir Ahmed, recounted his experiences with trying to find parking for the event.

“We feel that this could have been a more joyous event, but we felt unwelcome. Having a larger-than-necessary police presence did not help,” Ahmed said. “But we are still here, and we are going to make the best of it.”  

The MSA holds this event each year to celebrate Eid, which commemorates the 30 days of fasting during Ramadan, and to celebrate members of the club. Members of MSA’s leadership team mentioned that this year was more difficult than the others due to the Israel-Hamas war. 

Junior Aisha Adedayo, the MSA Sisters’ Community Chair, highlighted the amount of pressure the MSA has had to deal with after Oct. 7 due to the Israel-Hamas war. As the MSA is responsible for communicating with the WashU community about their stances on the recent protests related to the war and increased rates of Islamophobia on campus since Oct. 7. She is grateful to have such a strong community to support her. 

“I’m grateful for this community that prays together, fasts together, studies together, laughs together, gives sadaqah together, volunteers together, organizes protests together, calls for justice together, stands in solidarity together, and most importantly, supports each other in times of crisis,” Adedayo said.

After police began arresting protesters who were a part of the pro-Palestine protest, some of the protesters ran to Hillman Hall since it was the only unlocked building in the area.

A first-year student, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of disciplinary action, sought shelter in Hillman after witnessing the arrests of fellow protesters. The student was visibly shaking when they spoke with Student Life.

“It was actually kind of terrifying, like the fact that they were smiling while arresting peaceful protestors was so disturbing to me,” the student said.

Following the Eid dinner, some MSA members, including sophomore Shirine Awad, joined others outside of the County Justice Services Building to demand the release of the more than 100 protestors who were arrested.  

“I couldn’t eat knowing people were protesting for my country,” Awad, who is Palestinian, said.

Awad said that she felt like it was a difficult decision for students to participate in the protest, many of whom were worried about repercussions. 

“I stayed on the sidelines as I watched many of my student peers get arrested, and my blood was boiling with anger because I felt unable to help them,” Awad said. “I knew that getting arrested would not have been in my best interest academically.”

She said that it was a sad moment for everyone to witness what was happening. 

“While I understand the MSA’s concern for safety, it is a critical time to address issues affecting our WashU community,” she said. 

At the end of the dinner, Reverend Callista Isabelle, Director of the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life (ORSEL), gave remarks as the flashing lights of police cars were seen passing in the windows behind her. She compared the community celebrating Eid together to flickering candles amid a dark time. 

“Thank you for your hospitality, to me and to others throughout the year. Sharing your faith in that way as you serve food over and over again to our community…it all really, really matters,” Isabelle said. “Keep those flickering flames. The campus needs it.”

The anonymous student protester emphasized that the protest may have ended, but that there was a sense of hope among the protesters. 

“Even though we were all disbanded and many arrested, it feels like this is the start of something, not the end of something. I think we definitely accomplished something tonight,” the student said.

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