Former Congressman Allen West (R-FL) was invited by the student group, DePaul Young Americans for Freedom – which is associated with the Young America’s Foundation, to speak on the topic of Foreign Policy: The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict at DePaul University in Chicago on April 21.
DePaul student group Amnesty International alerted other students of West’s talk and planned a silent walkout followed by a speak-out in front of the university’s student center in Lincoln Park.
West has been named as one of the “Top Islamophobes” by CAIR National in 2013.
Along with Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN), West used his time in Congress to press his case that Islam is “not a religion” but a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology,” and that terrorism is inherent to the faith—not radical Islam, but Islam, writ large. He’s accused a fellow Member of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Muslim, of “represent(ing) the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”
Just last summer, Allen West tweeted that all Muslims engage in “honor killings, beheadings, suicide bombings”.
And a few days ago, Allen West went on “Fox and Friends” to explain how Muslims in the US are attempting to overthrow the government.
Students sat silently through the first 20 minutes of the lecture and after one student leader stood up holding a Palestinian flag, the rest of the group walked out silently. They were met with snide remarks and yelling from West’s supporters.
“DePaul’s chapter of Amnesty International was proud to stand in solidarity with those whose rights have been abused everywhere from Iraq to Palestine to the United States,” said Amnesty International member Elise Manchester.
Outside of the building, students met at the Father Eagan statue, placed a keffiyeh around his neck and a Palestinian flag in his arms and held their speak-out. Students focused on positive messages of solidarity rather than anger they held towards West or his Islamophobic views.
“Beyond simply being a protest, the walkout was also a demonstration of solidarity and strength between student activist organizations at DePaul,” said member of SJP Leila Abdul Razzaq.
Several student groups were represented at the event, including Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), Vincentian Commuters, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Amnesty International, Trans*(formation) and the DePaul Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) all spoke on importance of solidarity in fighting for justice on campus.
“M.E.Ch.A. de DePaul is proud to stand in solidarity with SJP and all other marginalized communities. When someone harms our brothers and sisters, they also harm us. Inlakech,” said M.E.Ch.A member Noemí M. Román.
The walkout took place in the context of the DePaul Divestment campaign, started by SJP and supported by over 14 student groups including DePaul Black Student Union, DePaul Fair Trade Committee, Building Communities, Ending Violence and others. Please see the students’ Press Release here to learn more.