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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

‘Liberation, justice and freedom’: Vanderbilt students attend rally for Palestine at statehouse

Students gave speeches demanding the end of the alleged forced expulsion and oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli government.
Tasfia Alam
The rally attendees chant for the liberation of Palestine, as photographed on April 16, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Tasfia Alam)

Around 50 people, including Vanderbilt students, gathered at the Municipal Courthouse on April 16 to protest the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The protest was a result of international outcry following Israeli attacks on worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on April 5 during the month of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. 

Dores in Solidarity With Palestine member Usma Saleh, a senior, attended the protest and said she was glad to see so many people come together for a common cause.

“It was nice to see people from different backgrounds and different religions [and] people who drove all the way from neighboring cities all gathered for a strong cause: the liberation, justice and freedom of Palestine,” Saleh said. 

Pro-Palestine protests gained traction in 2021 when an Israeli court ruled in favor of the forced removal of Palestinians from East Jerusalem. Since then, violence in the region has greatly increased. DSP held a national charity walk last year to bring awareness to this issue. 

DSP Historian Sam Schulman, a first-year, also attended the protest.

“At a time when the Israeli apartheid regime is increasing their fascist violence on Palestinians, it is encouraging to see the Nashville community respond in solidarity,” Schulman said.

The rally featured chants, speeches and stories from community members. Chants included “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” andJustice is our demand; no peace on stolen land.” Posters held by attendees featured similar slogans. Stories shared by organizers and attendees via an open mic format touched on the personal experiences of Palestinian families and individuals.

Rally organizer Safa Khan said the event was meant to foster solidarity and teach others about the situation in Palestine. 

“The Peace in Palestine Rally was created to provide our local community with a space to show solidarity for the Palestinian community,” Khan said in a message to The Hustler. “This event was created to raise awareness through social media because many Americans don’t know about the oppression taking place.”

Khan said she felt compelled to organize the event after seeing the treatment of Al-Aqsa worshipers — especially women, children and elders — by Israeli law enforcement. 

“Everyone should be allowed to worship peacefully without fear of persecution,” Khan said.

Many of the protesters were students from nearby high schools and universities. Rally attendee Rand Hasan, a sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University, shared that her grandparents were born and raised in Palestine and came to the U.S. to ensure a better future for their children. She said her grandparents’ experiences shaped her own identity as a Palestinian-American. 

“[My grandparents] were forced to flee their home due to political conflicts and the ongoing occupation of Palestine. They were so scared that they did not see a future for their kids in their own land,” Hasan said. “My grandpa is the person that would always remind me that I should never forget where I’m from. When I introduced myself to my classmates in college, I would tell them I’m from Palestine.” 

Saleh said it was nice to connect with other Palestinian students and expressed interest in collaborating with them through DSP events.  

“It really meant so much to me to see students from different universities who were there chanting and screaming with us,” Saleh said. “I’m looking forward to future events and collaborations with all of these students.” 

Khan emphasized that the cause is not simply a Muslim issue or a Palestinian issue but involves the protection of the human rights of all. 

“As the main organizer, my vision for the rally was to change the conversation of this being a Palestinian issue to a human issue,” Khan said.

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About the Contributor
Tasfia Alam
Tasfia Alam, Multimedia Copy Editor
Tasfia Alam (‘25) is from Los Angeles and is majoring in neuroscience and political science in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, she can be found obsessing over a new book, trying to expand her music taste or taking pictures of pretty sunsets. You can reach her at [email protected]
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