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Friday, May 24, 2024

Palestinian and Muslim students take legal action against Harvard

Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) filed a federal civil rights complaint on behalf of more than a dozen students,

Harvard University, renowned for its academic excellence, is currently facing a storm of controversy and allegations of failing to protect students from harassment based on their Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim backgrounds. The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) filed a federal civil rights complaint on behalf of more than a dozen students, shedding light on the alleged rampant harassment and racist attacks.

Tensions in the Wake of Israel-Hamas War

The filing of the complaint comes amid heightened tensions at Harvard since the Israel-Hamas war began in October. Former President Claudine Gay’s resignation following a congressional hearing on antisemitism on campus fueled the controversy. Campus demonstrations have become a regular occurrence, reflecting the charged atmosphere surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Read More: Harvard’s Investigation into Plagiarism Accusations Against Former President Reveals Findings

Pro-Palestinian Students’ Perspective

The complaint reveals a distressing pattern of harassment, including doxxing, stalking, and assault, targeted at students solely based on their Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim identities. Some were attacked for simply wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves. Pro-Palestinian students describe instances of having objects thrown at them and liquids poured on them during campus attacks, as well as being stalked while working at student jobs.

Doxxing Truck Incident

A significant incident that fueled the tension involved a conservative activist group renting a truck with LED screens displaying the names and faces of pro-Palestinian students labeled as Harvard’s “leading” antisemites. This incident further intensified the fear among students, as highlighted by one unnamed student in the MLFA statement.

“We have been chased, spat at, stalked, and hounded by doxxing trucks on campus, and even at our families’ homes. On top of worrying about my family’s safety in Palestine, I’m living in fear of being attacked while walking to class. No student should have to live like this,” expressed the student.

Legal Action by Jewish Students

In addition to the MLFA complaint, a group of Jewish students recently sued Harvard, alleging that the campus had become “a bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.” These students claim that the university failed to protect them, adding another layer of complexity to the ongoing controversy.

Harvard’s Response

Interim President Alan Garber announced the creation of two “presidential task forces” to combat antisemitism and fight Islamophobia and anti-Arab bias on January 19. These task forces are mandated to study the root causes and frequency of bias-based behaviors on campus, recommending approaches to eliminate such behaviors.

Eve Gerber Incident

In December, an incident involving Eve Gerber, the wife of an economics professor at Harvard, further fueled the debate. Gerber was caught on video following and accosting a graduate student wearing a keffiyeh, labeling it a “terrorist scarf.” While she later apologized for her comments, the incident adds to the narrative of a campus grappling with deep-seated tensions.

Read More: Jewish students filed law suit against Harvard

The MLFA complaint has been filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, demanding an immediate investigation into the alleged harassment on campus. The affected students attend various Harvard schools, including Harvard College, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Divinity School, and Harvard Law School.