Sit-in on Islamophobia replaces pro-Israel tent in White Plaza

Feb. 7, 2024, 2:36 a.m.

Two sit-ins now face one another in White Plaza: the Sit-In to Stop Genocide, which continues to demand that the University call for a ceasefire in Gaza and commit to the boycott, divest and sanction movement, and the Sit-In to Stop Islamophobia — a newly-organized demonstration that assembled after heavy rain knocked down the Blue and White Tent on Sunday.

Organizers created the pro-Israel tent in November to disseminate information about the Israel-Gaza war and provide a safe refuge for Jewish and Israeli students.

According to Kevin Feigelis, who is a tent organizer, organizers intend to reassemble the Blue and White Tent as soon as possible. They were asked by University grounds staff to remove the fallen tents temporarily, Feigelis said. 

“It’s unfortunate that Mother Nature had to do what Stanford was unwilling to do,” wrote Annabelle Davis ’24, an organizer with the Sit-In to Stop Genocide and Stanford Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP).

Feigelis criticized campus reactions as unnecessarily harsh. “The Jewish people have had to endure far worse — a tent falling down is nothing they can’t handle,” he said.

Shortly after Blue and White Tent debris was removed by organizers and service workers on Sunday, a new demonstration started in the space it previously occupied.

The demonstration, called the “Sit-in to Stop Islamophobia,” hopes to combat Islamophobia and teach “people the truth about Islam,” organizers told The Daily. Participants primarily include Muslim undergraduate and graduate students.

The new sit-in is unaffiliated with the Sit-In to Stop Genocide, the Blue and White Tent or any campus student groups.

Hamza El Boudali ’22 M.S. ’24, an organizer, said “anytime a terrorist attack happens, or some geopolitical event happens that involves Muslims and violence, there is a spike in anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sentiment.” 

“There’s a lot of misinformation about what Islam really says,” including Islamic positions on sharia or jihad, El Boudali said. 

The Sit-In to Stop Islamophobia has four demands for the University. One calls for an official acknowledgment of Islamophobia, especially when it is exacerbated by politicians and media. 

Organizers also called for Stanford’s divestment from governments “committing or at risk of committing genocide against Muslims,” in particular China, India and Israel. 

A third demand is to reinstate COLLEGE lecturer Ameer Loggins, who was suspended over reports of identity-based targeting last quarter. Fourth, they called for more on-campus resources and support for Muslim students.

According to El Boudali, there is insufficient space on campus for the growing Muslim community. “We don’t even have enough space for our weekly Friday prayers,” El Boudali said. “We’re looking for a space where we can host our prayers, our Ramadan Iftars and other social events.”

Organizers were motivated by doxxing and a hit and run under investigation as a hate crime.

“A kid got hit by a car here,” El Boudali said. “I don’t know what more [the University] need[s] to meet with us and talk about this and start making progress toward something concrete.”

Apart from the University, sit-in organizers criticized Daily opinion section policies and called for revisions, specifically around anonymous authorship.

“It’s hard because a lot of people are scared of doxxing, and they’re trying to be anonymous,” El Boudali said. “The news section has respect for that and tries to keep people anonymous. The opinions section enforces that there be a name on the piece.”

The Daily’s opinions section policies provide that authors “will not be granted anonymity to protect from reprisal for making certain claims or statements, but only to protect from danger arising from exposure of personal information about them.”

According to El Boudali, The Daily’s opinions section is the only medium through which he and other organizers “can get [their] opinions out there.” 

“The Review is not going to talk to us. I’ve tried to talk to them; I’ve exhausted all options,” El Boudali said. 

He believes The Daily has failed its “journalistic duty to try and get diverse perspectives.”

Organizers set up the Sit-in to Stop Islamophobia on the White Plaza lawn — a space previously occupied by the Blue and White Tent. Tent organizers told The Daily they made an indefinite reservation through Cardinal Engage. 

According to Feigelis, University administration told the Sit-In to Stop Islamophobia that the space was reserved for the Blue and White Tent. He said as long as the sit-in refuses to relocate, the tent cannot reassemble.

The Daily has reached out to the University for comment.

“We did not move your stuff — the wind destroyed it, you cleaned it up. We saw an open space, we set up here, we’re happy to coexist.” El Boudali said. He added that organizers set up in White Plaza due to its high traffic.

The Blue and White Tent intends to return to campus soon, Feigelis said. 

Paridhi Bhatia contributed reporting. 

Dilan Gohill ’27 is a news staff writer. He is from Santa Monica, CA and enjoys avocado toast and listening to Lorde. Contact him at dilan 'at' stanforddaily.com

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