By Maurice Cacho
His first year of university can’t get any worse than the summer leading up to it.
Ibrahim Aboud is one of 19 terror suspects arrested this summer on allegations of involvment with a home-grown terrorist cell. He is also a student enrolled at Ryerson.
So far, first year is off to a good start for the student.
“The first day was fine, (I) wasn’t nervous,” he said. “I just want to have a normal life.”
Aboud said he believes people in his class know what happened to him this summer because he saw some of them in court. He also thinks his professors know, but it hasn’t been an issue.
Even though he was at the centre of attention from international media, Aboud doesn’t feel threatened on campus.
“I’m feeling safe at Ryerson and I don’t feel anything was wrong (because) people have been talking to me,” he said.
But Muhammad-Ali Jabbar, RSU president and former Muslim Students’ Association vp, is concerned about Aboud. “(With) all the negative coverage he’s got, it’s definitely going to affect his future,” said Jabbar.
“There was less focus on them being given bail and more focus on them being ‘terrorists,’” he said.
Jabbar thinks things should be the other way around. People shouldn’t think he did a serious thing, he said, because Aboud’s on bail.
“But it all depends on what the case will tell,” he added.
Although Ryerson MSA President Waleed Elsayed is concerned with Islamophobia on campus, he doesn’t think Ryerson will have any major problems.
“No matter what, I’m always going to believe that Ryerson is a secure and all-inclusive campus,” he said.
Jabbar hopes student organizations, such as the MSA and RSU, will help Ryerson’s different cultures connect.
“We try to bring out a lot of people and bring them together,” he said.
He thinks that in the past, the student groups have done a very good job of doing outreach and being open to the community.
However, Elsayed said he has not met Aboud at any events.
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy added that Ryeson is a model for positive race relations.
“You walk up and down Gould St. and you realize both the inclusive nature of the community and how well everyone works together,” he said.
“We’re active and we try to do our best to promote the inclusive nature of the community and tolerance.”
Azeem Khan, assistant secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North America, said it’s important not to generalize Muslims as being terrorists.
Khan said the focus is on Muslim groups to help integrate the school communty as a whole.
“Media puts images in our mind that Muslims are terrorists,” said Khan.
The same idea is shared by Mohammad Ahmed, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students’ Association at York.
Ahmed said he tries to get as many youth out to social events as possible.
Khan thinks many of the young people charged are victims of alienation and don’t feel as though they’re part of society
“The worst thing is when society doesn’t treat them well. They have a feeling that everyone is out to get them,” he said.
-with files from Robyn Doolittle