February 1, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - The January 21 student fight at Guilford College, a North Carolina Quaker institution has largely been depicted as a hate crime.
From the outset, people and organizations with obvious biases and agendas have jumped into the controversy, casting it as an unprovoked attack by red-neck members of Guilford's football team against three foreign born Palestinian students who hail from Israel's West Bank.
Perhaps the shrill, racially charged statement by Guilford's director of multicultural education, Sekinah Hamlin demonstrates the level of bile being ginned up by this controversy and the degree to which some have prejudged the event.
"Students of Color and/or International Students:
By now, most of you have heard about the situation that occurred on Friday night between some football players and Faris Khader, Osama Sabbah, and Omar Awartini (a student from NC State). Faris, Osama, and Omar were defending themselves against students (and possibly perspective students) that were attacking them physically and simultaneously verbally with phrases like "sandnigga'", "terrorist", etc. The incident was a hate crime.
We must be united as people of color more than ever. What happened to these three young men could have happened to any one of us. That is the reality of racism and no institution, including Guilford, in this country is free of it.
We are concerned about your safety and your mental, spiritual, and emotional health. If you feel unsafe, need to talk, or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact us. In addition, we will have a gathering to discuss how this is affecting you/us/people of color Monday, January 21, 2007 (tomorrow) at 9pm in the International House. This meeting is ONLY for students of color. This affects us in a different way than our white allies and we need to have a safe place to discuss how we are feeling.
I have included cell numbers for myself and Jorge Zeballos, International Student Advisor and Latino Initiative Coordinator. We have been working with Faris, Osama, and Omar and meeting continuously this weekend. If you have any questions or concerns, we will be able to answer them. In addition, if you would like to reach out to other Multicultural Education staff members, I have included their information as well.
Thanks and I see you on tomorrow.
Sčkinah Hamlin Director of Multicultural Education"
As Ms. Hamlin's statement indicates she has taken it upon herself to shepherd the three "victims" through the process which has resulted now in five Guilford student athletes having been charged with various crimes.
Largely absent from news coverage has been any account of the early morning altercation other than that being presented by the Ramallah students.
Sources familiar with the incident have now come forward stating the the attack was initiated by the Palestinian students.
One of those sources told us that the weekend that the event took place was a:
"recruiting weekend for the college [that on] on that type of week athletes are on best behavior [the confrontation took place in] a courtyard in between apartment buildings…a hangout spot…[an eyewitness to the event saw] Faris [Khader] and Mike Six [one of the football players] [with] an argument going on…[the witness had turned away but turned back to view the scene again when] he heard the belt whipping, looked back and saw the belt…[Mr. Six] took about seven strikes from the belt……[Mr. Six then] used a wrestling move and stuffed him [Faris] into the ground….that started a fumble….[like] a rugby match...[which drew in more football players, there were] no brass knuckles….[involved]"
Mr. Khader was suspended from Guilford for the Winter Semester.
The College refuses to comment on Mr. Khader's status believing that to be confidential information.
According to information provided by our sources and as detailed by a former [Jewish] Guilford student [whose name we are not disclosing at this time], Mr. Khader has a history of violence.
According to a weblog maintained by this student he was attacked by Mr. Khader and Mr. Sabbah, the account of which we present below in its entirety. We made the decision to redact the names of persons mentioned aside from the principals.
"I lost sleep over this decision but dealing w/ the work in sculpture and drums , classes, labs and tests i'd have to make up on top of this political mess....ahhhh!!!
im taking a medical leave!!!for people that don't know what happened that night i got jumped...twice by faris and osama; two students who I had never met, seen, or heard about ever at Guilford, certainly didn't know their ethnicity or nationality as Palestinians. keep in mind I took another break from school last spring and for 5 months, i was gone from my school and now, I was trying to finally graduate. So I go to [name withheld] ( a friend that graduated last year from Guilford) house on a sat. night, he's having a snazzy dress up shirt and tie type deal party going on. I had heard of nothing else really big goin on that night, threw on my cleanest pair of jeans and got out a bullshit collared shirt. I was called out on my lack of dress but I didn;t care. i got there early and posted up with 8 beers but gave a bunch away that night, I barely drank at all cause I took over as DJ and made that room bump with Jackson 5 and tons of old classics, and a couple new joints. Its the end of the night but what I didn;t know what was about to go down; or that these kids, Osama and Faris , would beat down on me , had already gotten into trouble that night. One of them was caught stealing a KITCHEN KNIFE from [name withheld] kitchen by one of [name withheld] roomates, who told either Osama or Faris whomever was out of line to put it back and they did. I don;t know when [name withheld] was hit in the face that night, but I have a pretty good idea when [name withheld] and [name withheld] roomate were assaulted as well. I was trying to back up in a car with [name withheld] and if u know [name withheld] driveway which about half-of u or more won't...its small and when theres a party there kids have to get out of the way. this party had a lot of people in the front of the house which is basically all driveway with cars intermingled on the fringe and kids hanging out. So we are ready to leave and we start the car and tell kids to get out of the way, but some kids aren't moving. So [name witheld] or his roomates start moving kids back out of the way, and they were doing this kindly just explaining that in order for us to leave that these people would have to move. But then a fight breaks out, a small tustle between John who lived at this place and Faris; I guess it wasn't a fight 'cause John didn't hit Faris back. This all happened within a span of three minutes so its hard to get all the details out.
So that tustle is sort of broken up, and we think we can finnally leave and then Faris and Osama get it in again with someone else, I believe Scott, but it could have been [name witheld] honestly I do not know. But what I do know is that I got fed up with all this nonsense and I had one foot in the car and one foot out as I looked at Faris and Osama and told them "This bullshit has got to stop; all we are trying to do is leave." Then Faris came over and I could tell he was drunk and out of control; he had this look to him like he was about to snap at any second. Then he slammed the door on my leg, which he later would claim was an accident and I could actually see that being that it was weird footing and he was drunk but then he lunged at me and before I had a chance to defend myself or do anything to Faris, I was held back by a crowd of 4-5 kids, but Osama and Faris were not held back and punched me at least twice in the face, enough to give me a nice shiner (Northern slang for a black eye), a mini shiner on my left eye and a cut beneath the eye as well. I was furious and angry but I had no idea who these kids were or why they had hit me, or why i was held back and they weren't, but mostly i wanted to know why had such an awesome night had turned out so, so shitty? I had people holding me back, way after they were done pulling my dreads to keep my head down in order to give me those two "shiners." That night was awful and it only got worse. I finally was done pushing kids off of me and started to calm down but I wanted to know who those kids were that hit me.
After the initial adrenaline rush was out of me I left in a car, still amped up I wanted to know who would do this at a Guilford party, I hadn't been in a fight or anything close to what happened that night the 4 years+ (working on the 5th year senior status) I've been at Guilford. I went Bryan cause that where I heard they lived on the second floor. And sure enough they were there sitting on the steps outside second floor of Bryan. but before I got up there [name withheld, a hall monitor] ran into me saw me with my t-shirt off and my face all messed up from the earilier scrap, and she tried to stop me. instead i went past her, and went up the stairs to confront the two kids who had punched me for no apparent reason. I find them on the stairs and they immediately recognize me, Faris seemed still sloshed at this point, and i said to them as they stood up off the steps to confront me, " I wanna know why you punched me, why were you startin shit," but before anything can happen [name withheld] the, on duty hall director in Bryan gets between us to intervene, sensing that something might happen. Faris sits back down for a second, as I;m trying to explain to [name withheld] what had happened at the off campus party, Faris threatens my life twice, saying "I'm gonna fucking kill you" and making a motion across his neck.After the first time he said it, I told him, " You don;t know me, and you don't know who I know" Then he repeated his death threat to me in the exact same fashion as before and then lunges at me and grabs my neck for about 2 secs. before he either realized what he was doing and stops or stopped cause [name withheld] was there. So she intervenes again and thats when they jumped me, i wasn't expecting to brawl out there in Bryan with [name withheld], a hall director, less then a hundred yards from public safety office. They caught me by surprise and yanked my head down by hair and proceeded to beat me for about 3-4 minutes, they got a lot of punches in, it seemed like foreve and I was crying out for help, all [name withheld] could do was watch as Public safety finnally got to the scene and they realized and got off of me. They beat my back more then anything else, i don;t know if i was just punched or if i was also kicked all I knew was that I was wolloped by this time and wouldn't think it would still hurt me today. Then Osama and Faris lied twice to security that I had a knife on me, so i was searched after getting my ass kicked, and of course there was no knife or anything on me that could have been a weapon, but they tried to sell it again to security after they searched me the first time. Of course they left the knife accusation out of the report they filed with campus life. [name withheld] was there during the entire part of the confrontation that occured on campus and she never heard me say anything
So when did I know that Osama and Faris were Palestinian? I found out who Osama and and Faris were as I was finally leaving [name witheld] and on the car ride back to Guilford, that they were Palestinian students. This did not at all change my view of them or what they had done to me and others, on top of ruining the end of that party with some violence. I knew some Palestinian students, [names withheld] who I was close with throughout their four years at Guilford, but now they have graduated . I've been to Palestinian rallies...i get shit all the time for being a jew that's against Israel by some of my family, and even some peers.... I wrote my final IDS paper for my SO/AN major on the liberation of Palestine; and I've taken five or more classes on that deal specifically with race and racism. If you ask anyone who knows me, or has ever had a class with me they know that if anything I'm an anti-racist, not as much of an active anti-racist as I was in highschool, but people certainly no that I stand for something, and that something is social justice.
The 16 people from Guilford who were jailed during the IMF-World Bank Protest with me know it. And I know that theres people within this community that know who I am and what I stand for and would've come to me about all this instead of doing it behind my back. Now thats why I have a problem. Cause I just got on the e-mail lists about all these meetings to get me punished. I mean I've been put through enough physical pain,especially those first two weeks after this incident; when I couldn't take a shit without being in severe pain I had a pinched nerve or something awful cause I would get this shock of pain when i moved the wrong way. I'm talking taking like 20-30 seconds to get into the car cause my back would sieze up and i'd get tazed, it was like a hot knife shot down my back into my hip and partly down my thigh, it was awful and I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy what I've been thru, and to be honest my back still doesn't feel normal and its been at least three weeks. Beyond the physical pain; the humiliation of walking around with a limp that just now subsided and two black eyes for about a week was certainly a humbling experience to say the least. Now my character is being attacked and that, to me; is the textbook definition ADDING INSULT TO INJURY. It seems like someone is hell bent on tossing everything I;ve stood for out the window. Every single time that I've stood up for something at Guilford, and anybody that knows me, or has taught me knows that I'm an anti-racist. But it seems ridiculous to me that I even have to prove myself to anyone, cause I know what I stand for, and I know what I said that night, and there is not a single doubt in my mind that I did NOT say those things,"Osama bin Laden", or "terrorist." I do not know if they were said but I know I did not hear them, but I do know that the three other people that were assaulted that night by Osama and Faris did not say them, were racist things said before the five times or more, there were incidents that night. Faris and Osama looked to me to be out of control that night and anybody else who was there would certainly say the same and they have. All the people I have named have all put statements into campus life and corroborate the events of that night; all the events I have just told. Faris and Osama did come to me the next to day to pseudo-apologize; they tol;d me they were sorry for beating the shit out of me but it was because I said racist things, than Faris did admit that he had asked around to see if i would have said those things and people told him no. It wasn't until the meeting with campus life did it become apparent that this was the angle these guys were gonna take for beating up a kid in second floor Bryan during peek hours in front of a hall director, it was in the schools hands now; and these guys knew they were in trouble. I have no problem with Osama or Faris being at Guilford, I'd love to talk about all this with them, but its the school that made the decision based upon the four people that were hurt that night by them; the descisiton that at least Faris would have to be suspended on account that he endangered the community, was not mine. It was the schools. And assaulting anybody on Guilford, in front of a hall directory should warrant a serious punishment."
We believe that the above information clearly constitutes strong evidence that the so-called hate attack allegedly initiated by Guilford College football team members against defenseless Palestinian students is a hoax and that the members of the football team were acting in self-defense - even absorbing a vicious attack before responding.
The Jewish, former Guilford student's account of Khader and Sabbah's actions also makes comprehensible, their attorney Seth Cohen's recently videotaped remarks, "none of my clients stabbed a man" with the counsel's reference apparently applying to this instance and not the January 21 fracas.
It now appears likely that the January 21 attack was actually initiated by those now claiming victimhood and that there exist strong allegations that at least two of those making that claim have a history of violence against members of the Guilford community.
We remain concerned that this event is playing out in the main stream media in a manner reminiscent of the Duke lacrosse team case and we call on all interested parties - especially Guilford College's administration, its faculty and those responsible for the judicial procedings relating to this matter currently underway in Greensboro - to act to prevent a similar travesty being perpetrated in this case.
Students demand justice Updated: 2/3/2007 3:52 PM By: Ashley Smith
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A group of UNC-Chapel Hill students held a solidarity vigil to support three Palestinian students involved in a campus brawl that happened January 20th at Guilford College. Six of the school's football players were charged with assault.
The UNC-Chapel Hill student group is called "Solidarity with Palestine through Education and Action at Carolina" and the student organization formed just one week after the Palestinian students on Guilford college's campus say they were attacked. Freshman international studies student Haley Koch helped organize Friday's rally at The Pitt at UNC.
"No other universities have come out and supported these students and this has been a very difficult time for them and so we want to express that support to them," explained Koch.
WATCH THE VIDEO
An alleged Guilford College beating is sparking student protest at another college campus.
The goal of the rally was to respond to the violence at Guilford College by showing support for the three accusers. Earlier this week, Greensboro authorities said there was not enough evidence to continue an investigation. Although there have been conflicting accounts of the January 20th fight, students at UNC believe an assault did take place and that it was racially motivated.
"Granted, it is an alleged hate crime currently but whenever something like this happens, it's important for people to stand up and speak out about it," said UNC senior Stephen Lassiter.
They're also encouraging other UNC students to get involved by signing a petition. The petition is asking Guilford College to fully investigate and recognize the incident as a hate crime. It's also calling for changes to the college's Code of Conduct.
"Because right now there is nothing about hate crimes in their code of conduct," Koch continued. "So even if it was determined that the event was a hate crime, there would be nothing they could do in their judicial proceeding."
That's troubling for students who think more should be done to ensure all minority students feel safe on their campus.
Meanwhile, Guilford College says it's reviewing all of the evidence to see if the incident can be classified as a hate crime. The college also says it will make changes to current judicial polices and procedures if appropriate. Prosecutors say they are waiting for the college to complete its investigation before deciding how to proceed.
CHAPEL HILL - Dozens of UNC-Chapel Hill students are expected to gather at noon today at The Pit to show support for three Guilford College Palestinian students who said they were beaten and called ethnic slurs last month.
Six football players were charged with misdemeanor assault and ethnic intimidation in connection with the early-morning on-campus fight Jan. 20, according to the Greensboro News & Record.
Organizers of the rally will circulate a petition that calls upon Guilford College administrators to label the attack a hate crime.
"We will not tolerate violence or bigotry in our communities," said freshman Haley Koch of the new UNC-CH student group, Solidarity with Palestine through Education and Action at Carolina. "We want to send a clear message of compassion, solidarity and inclusion to marginalized communities in North Carolina, the United States and across the globe."