More than 200 Muslim students from 19 Texas universities attended an annual Muslim Student Association (MSA) Showdown during which they raised $16,442 for relief efforts for Syrian refugees.
The 10th annual MSA Showdown held at University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) featured Muslim students from UT-Austin, UT-San Antonio, UT-Dallas, University of North Texas, Texas A&M, and other schools, reports The Shorthorn, UT-Arlington’s student newspaper.
The event – called Project Sadaqa – was held for three days over this past weekend to aid Islamic Relief USA. Some of the events of the Showdown are sports or arts related, while others are focused specifically on Islam. One event – called Tajweed – is the recitation of the Quran, Islam’s holy book.
“They choose a chapter in the Quran that they let us know beforehand and everyone practices,” Sehar Memon, UTA Muslim Student Association president and management and information systems senior said. “Then they recite it privately at the competition and then they judge it based on the mistakes that were made.”
Omar Salim, architecture student and vice president of UT-Austin’s MSA, said the event brings together Muslim-American students from different schools.
“Everyone is different,” he said. “We come from different schools, different backgrounds, and the fact that the religion of Islam can unite us even at this young age is amazing.”
This year, the project – which typically invites all MSAs throughout Texas to help those in need – focused on the needs of the Syrian refugees. The schools competed with each other to raise money for food, shelter, and clothing for the refugees, while prizes were given to the MSAs that had the most donors and funds.
“Prize money, a check for $3,000 to each group, was given to the association that earned the most funds and donors,” said Memon.
UTA won the prize for most donors, while UT-Austin was awarded the prize for raising the most funds at $5,000. UT-Dallas won the overall first-place prize.
“The group we have at UT are conscious and aware of what’s going on, not only within the UT community but everywhere,” said Salim. “We try to project the idea that it’s not just helping Muslims, but helping humanity.”
CNSNews.com reported in December that the large majority of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States are Muslim. Only 53 of the 2,184 Syrian refugees admitted at that point since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011 were Christian, while 2,098 were Muslim.
The state of Michigan, for example, is expected to take in another 5,100 Syrian refugees in 2016 alone – the highest number since 2002. The influx will occur even as intelligence officials warn that radical Islamic extremists posing as refugees will launch an attack in the U.S. this year.
As Detroit News reports, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson admitted in testimony recently before the House Homeland Security Committee that accepting Syrian refugees escaping their country’s civil war could present a security threat to the United States and added that security has been enhanced.
“Given the prospect of the terrorist-inspired attack in the homeland, we have intensified our work with state and local law enforcement,” Johnson said. “Almost every day, DHS and the FBI share intelligence and information with Joint Terrorism Task Forces, fusion centers, local police chiefs and sheriffs.”
Oakland County, Michigan Executive L. Brooks Patterson said welcoming more refugees into the U.S. is “opening ourselves up for a tragedy.”
“I’m just parroting what (intelligence officials) have said: That they expect terrorists to imbed with refugees and carry out an attack here, and that we can’t vet them,” he said.
The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) observes that the MSA of the United States and Canada was incorporated in January 1963, when members of the Muslim Brotherhood came together at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with the goal of “spreading Islam as students in North America.”
“Islamic extremism is on the rise on college and university campuses across the United States,” IPT states. “The spread of radical Islamism on campuses has proven to be an effective tool to garner support and gain legitimacy, exploiting the right of free association with academic institutions.”
IPT maintains that the Muslim Brotherhood-influenced MSA often uses college and university campuses as a means to gain support through campaigns based on diversity and tolerance.
“International and domestic groups that advocate extremist or radical causes frequently host lectures and other events on campuses to shore up support and recruit members,” IPT states. “Indeed, universities are a fertile field for radicals searching for the next generation of activists and sympathizers.”