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IUN Club Works to Spread Awareness on Oppression in the Arab World

By Patrick Drennan
On March 29, 2013

This past week the IU Northwest campus celebrated "Eye on The Arab World," a series of events hosted by our chapter of Amnesty International. Amnesty International is a non for profit organization that focuses on achieving global human rights whose research and action campaigns that spread awareness and impact government and private policy that violate human rights has earned them the Nobel Peace Prize, the UN Human Rights Prize, and various other prestigious recognitions around the world.

For "Eye on The Arab World" week, our chapter of Amnesty International worked to generate awareness of issues of oppression and discrimination throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

On Tuesday, March 26, group members Hasan Issa and Dana Alnahass took interested students through the "Tunnel of Oppression," a series of three events that recreate real world instances of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, Palestine, and the United States. The first rendition highlighted the brutally patriarchal government in Saudi Arabia as a Grand Mufti, a judge, sentences a woman to ten lashes just for driving. In Palestine, the tour group was illuminated on the two tier Israeli judicial system that systematically oppresses Palestinians and subjugates them to great horror on a daily bases. We saw a shaken woman tell a news reporter of Israeli soldiers who invaded their mosque, vandalized their place of worship, and took several hostages; an event that has become standard practice in the occupied territories and something to be expected by Palestinians. Finally, we saw Islamaphobia in action as a bully labels a fellow student as a "terrorist" and an "America hater" and physically assaults him for being a part of the Islamic faith. Islamaphobia, which describes attitudes and actions that discriminates unfairly against Muslims, rose sharply after the Sept. 11 attacks and has become a pervasive phenomenon that is used to justify unfair treatment of Muslims such as what was described in the final performance in the "Tunnel of Oppression."

 In order to further spread awareness about human rights, the group designed t-shirts with facts about human rights that students wore all over campus.

To end the week, on Thursday, March 28, the group organized a guest speaker event featuring Dr. Ana Matwijkiw speaking about current events in Bahrain, a small island kingdom in the Persian Gulf.

"Eye on The Arab World" marks another effort in the group's mission to carry out the values of Amnesty International. Formed last year, the local chapter began work immediately on organizing campus events to raise awareness about human rights violations and promoting global solidarity. Some notable events last year that the group was responsible for was Asia Day which celebrated the various cultures across the Asian continent, and the "Wall of Tolerance."

Last month, the IU chapter was one of 15 schools selected to raise money to send winterized tents to Syria. Their goal was $500 which they broke in raising $650 for their mission. The group plans on getting bigger and bringing more fundraiser events to campus and even organizing rallies for their cause.

If you'd like to learn more about our local Amnesty International chapter or would like to help advance their cause by joining them, please contact Daya Devanathan at dayadeva@iun.edu


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