Department promotes Islamophobia discussions

Students and faculty gather under the bell tower to support Muslim neighbors.


Becky Mitchell/THE CHIMES

Rebecca Mitchell, Writer

In response to recent events such as the San Bernardino shooting, the sociology department held a rally and a brief prayer time in conclusion to the event speaking out against Islamophobia. The event taught students to love their neighbors, including Muslims, rather than be afraid of them.

“[We decided to have the event] just because of what’s happening in our country and there’s just such a climate of fear here,” said Brad Christerson, sociology professor. “We just felt like it was a time for us to stand up, stand against [Islamophobia] and also just a deep concern for the refugee crisis in Iraq and Syria.”

Guest Speaker

At the beginning of the event, Duaa Alwan from the Islamic Society of Orange County, came as a guest speaker.

“It was really great hearing from the lady from the Islam Society of Orange County, that was really eye-opening and awesome,” said Hugo Palomares, intercultural studies graduate student.

Glen Peterson, office director of World Relief in Garden Grove, Calif., also shared stories of refugees and how individuals can learn by helping refugees. For example, a student worker at World Relief was told to ride the bus with a refugee, something they both experienced for the first time together.

Welcoming Refugees

“We can welcome refugees in the name of Jesus and that can be transforming for students as well as the refugee,” Peterson said.

The organization also pairs with the U.S. Department of State in a refugee resettlement program where they help new refugees adjust and settle in the U.S. when they arrive.

“The main reason [I have a passion for refugees] is because of Jesus’ call to love our neighbors and that includes the widowed, the orphan and the stranger, and you know refugees are part of that immigrant population,” Peterson said.


Reaching out to refugees, including those from Syria and Iraq, may seem difficult for students, however on Friday, Dec. 11, students are welcome to go with Christerson to protest at Congressmen Ed Royce’s office in Downtown Brea. Before going to protest, students are also welcome to make posters in Sutherland Courtyard at noon.

Even before the event, Madison Dunaetz, freshman intercultural studies major, hoped to help with the refugees.

“I have some really good friends who are Iraqi refugees, so anything to help, I’ve just hearing their stories makes me want to do anything to help,” Dunaetz said.

Other Ways to Assist

Another way students can assist is by learning more about the issue at the Jesus Revolution club, which is held every Sunday night at 7 p.m. in the Mosaic Center. Christerson said, in the club, students are committed to following Jesus, seeking justice and standing up for those who are suffering.

“I want students to know that we can change the narrative, that we can love our neighbors and we don’t need to be afraid of refugees,” Peterson said.

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