On Friday night, some Muslim students at the University of Oklahoma felt like they needed to do something after President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday night banning immigrants and refugees from seven majority Muslim countries for at least 90 days.
“I personally didn’t believe it,” Adbul Qadar, an OU student and Muslim Student Association member, said.
Qadar said throughout the election he didn’t think Trump would create a ban on Muslim immigrants and that is was all campaign rhetoric. When he found out about the executive order, he was surprised and hurt.
“I’m an American, I love America and my people love America,” Qadar said. “It pretty much tells all Muslims ‘we don’t want you here’.”
He was one of many OU students from different immigrant communities who went to social media to talk about how they could respond.
Natasha Saya, the president of the OU Muslim Student Association, said the idea of a solidarity march happened organically.
“We came up with the idea independently and when Natasha mentioned in a group chat that this was an idea someone brought up to her,” Amanah Fatima, the co-president of the Religious Studies Student Association.
Student leaders and members from the OU Muslim Student Association, the Religious Studies Student Association and the Hispanic-American Student Association, as well as other student groups wanted to join the march.
“I made the Facebook event and within half an hour, 100 people had signed up,” Saya said.
Fatima, Saya and Qadar all said the students behind the event were surprised by the immediate response. At last count, 400 people plan to attend and 1,000 are interested. Qadar said he expects 300 to 400 people to attend.
“The entire Muslim community is upset, scared and unsure of what will happen next,” Fatima said. “My family is lucky enough that we are all citizens, but even so, this is not right. We’re a nation of immigrants and I have always taken great pride in this fact; diversity enriches our nation and is what makes America so great.”
Qadar said the outpouring of support for immigrant communities has been particularly heartening.
The OU Solidarity March will be from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m on Feb. 2. It will begin in front of the Bizzell Memorial Library and move toward the Unity Garden on the South Oval, where marchers will be served hot cocoa and cookies while listening to the speakers.
“I feel like the response is so great it just exceeded my expectations,” Saya said.