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Student activism in the heat of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis

by | Nov 2, 2023 | Campus, Culture, Education | 0 comments

The impact one voice can make

In light of the ongoing conflict, a Free Palestine protest took place at MacEwan University on Oct. 16. In organizing the protest, second-year MacEwan student Noor Zaarour saw the success of the demonstration firsthand as others came together to make a peaceful and impactful motion-shedding light on the reality within Gaza: “

“I was brought to tears, honestly, as we shouted together,” says Zaarour.

Zaarour viewed the protest as an opportunity to raise awareness and educate others about the crisis while hoping it would create more pressure for change. The incentive to spread the word led her to MacEwan’s Robbins Health Learning Centre, where the protest was in full swing, catching the eyes of others as they went by. Reflecting back on that day, Zaarour emphasizes her gratitude to those who came together to create a united front for those suffering in Gaza.

“As people of humanity, we should speak up about this because, time and time, we’ve said never again to the Holocaust, never again to the Rwanda genocide. But, then we see this happening, and it’s like, what happened to ‘never again’?”

Noor Zaarour, organizer of MacEwan Free Palestine protest

Zaarour says: “When I saw how many people came out, my heart was honestly so warmed by it, like there are actual people who want to be educated about this and support student protests, and it just made me really happy to see people engaging so supportively.”

“The protest was a way to really stress how severe this crisis is. There’s so much propaganda online, and people really don’t know what’s going on,” says Zaarour, “So I thought, why not get on our feet and actually educate people about it, and why not go to a school? Why not catch the attention of someone in power who can actually speak up?” 

With the protest making headlines throughout MacEwan, Zaarour shares how others reached out after being inspired to organize their own protests: 

“After the protest at MacEwan, students at the U of A reached out regarding how I had done it and if I ran into any trouble,” she says. “I would say the protest made a difference in a way which inspired those from U of A to create their own protest the following week!”

“I also saw a few individuals pass by and stop to ask some questions to those who were at the protest, educating them on the topic.”

The power of activism has been seen worldwide, and Zaarour’s dedication to bringing people together rings true for many activists’ shared belief: commitment to promoting social change and justice by challenging the status quo, and speaking up for those who can’t. In rallying students and passerbyss together to create a united front, Zaarour stresses the importance of protesting and the impact it has on promoting change.

“As people of humanity, we should speak up about this because, time and time, we’ve said never again to the Haulocost, never again to the Rwanda genocide. But then we see this happening, and it’s like, what happened to ‘never again’?” she says.

“I want people to look into their sources. I want people to do their research. I want people to donate to places like MATW [Muslims Around The World],” says Zaarour.“I want people to email their government representatives to express their distaste for the situation.”

“The UN warned that this is an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, and I want people to speak up about this.”

While turmoil and retaliation rooted in settler colonialism have impacted Palestinians for 75 years, recent attacks from Hamas and the Israeli Zionist movement have brought this “war on terrorism” to light. The severe pursuit of hard violence within Gaza has caused devastating losses, with the number of casualties, including children, rising every day. 

Protests like Zaarour’s are fundamental in bringing human rights crises to light and giving them the attention that they deserve. In challenging established powers, activists have paved the way for promoting change in the global landscape. Zaarour’s protest exemplifies how one voice can speak for thousands and how we, as a community, can come together to endorse change for those suffering. 

Photo by Alexis Knee

Kaitlyn Evans

The Griff


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