National protests cause Fresno State to excuse Muslim students from class

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Muslim students at Fresno State had the option to miss class today after a potential threat across the country.

Armed anti-Muslim protests were scheduled in 20 different cities for Friday and Saturday. The President of Fresno State, Joseph Castro, says some Muslim students were scared, so after careful consideration, he made the decision to excuse Muslim students from class. Some students did not show up Friday, but Action News did speak with a few who were there and not scared.

The Fresno State Saudi Students Association alerted Castro to a possible threat against Muslims on Thursday night, and requested that he excuse Muslim students from Friday classes.

"They were scared and we wanted to make sure that all of our students are safe so we have given them the opp today to be excused from class," said Castro.

Castro says the Saudi students received information from the Saudi government, which sponsors them. That information was passed on to Castro, who decided with his staff that there was enough of a threat to make the decision. The information was limited, but national in scope, says Castro.

Seyed Ali Ghazvini Imam, of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, said, "I don't think there will be a problem here, and in fact business will be as usual here."

The Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno is aware of anti-Muslim protests scheduled around the country this weekend. So far, Fresno hasn't showed up on any schedules. That sits well with Imam Ghazvini, who is preparing for the fourth annual bazaar scheduled for Saturday. He says Muslims continue to be victimized because they can be associated with terrorist groups like ISIS. "We're actually victims of ISIS, not only we reject we demand ISIS to stop and be eliminated."

A Fresno State Muslim student, who did not want to be identified, thinks it's wrong for groups like ISIS to use religion as a reason for their horrible actions, but has always felt comfortable on campus. "I've never had a problem here, you know towards my religion. No one has ever approached me negatively." She's on campus, taking an important test and giving a big presentation. Not fearful of any potential threat, but grateful that Fresno State gave her and other Muslim students the option to come to class.

Action News also spoke with a Sikh community activist. He says because Sikhs continue to be confused with radical Muslims or terrorists because they wear turbans, these planned protests are concerning. He says they're exercising caution and praying for peace.
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