There’s Been A Huge Rise In Muslim Student Leaders And Here’s Why

Source: BuzzFeed News

BY Aisha Gani

Zamzam Ibrahim was sitting at a coffee shop on 1 July when her phone started vibrating. It was 11:30am and she had travelled to London for a day of meetings, when she noticed she was suddenly receiving a lot of notifications. “I went through the messages and it was a lot of hate. And I was like, OK, what’s going on?” That’s how the 23-year-old newly elected president of the University of Salford student union found out her teenage tweets had been found by the tabloid press.

It had been two months since the Manchester Arena bombing, in which 23 people were killed and 250 were injured. It was reported the attacker, Salman Ramadan Abedi, had taken a course at Salford in 2014 but dropped out. The university published a statement, saying this news had been a “shock” to the university community, which had no connection to the attack, but in the following days its staff and its students came under the spotlight of the international media – none more so than its student union president.

Chris Bethell for BuzzFeed

Newspapers including the Daily Mail and a far-right Washington-based website published stories about Ibrahim with headlines like “Salford student union president calls for Islamic takeover” and “Student Union President: Oppress White People, Make Koran Required Reading For ‘Islamic Takeover’”. They were based on tweets she had sent five and six years before, and mentioned she was now the student leader at the same university that the Manchester Arena bomber had attended.

“I never imagined I could receive death threats from America, [but] I’ve got letters in my drawer,” Ibrahim tells BuzzFeed News about the aftermath. Such headlines are the first things that come up when you google her name.

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