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Freedom for Palestine Protest follows airstrikes in Gaza

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Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
A protester holds up a Palestinian flag during the Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins on College Avenue Oct. 13.
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  • Tareq Kahala chants along with the rest of the protesters at the Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins Oct. 13. The protest went from College Avenue to the Colorado State University Oval.

    Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
  • A protester holds up a Palestinian flag during the Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins on College Avenue Oct. 13.

    Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
  • A crowd of protesters chant with signs on College Avenue in Fort Collins Oct. 13.

    Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
  • Shehab Elhaddad, board member of the Colorado State University Muslim Student Association, leads the Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins in chants on College Avenue Oct. 13. “I’m Egyptian originally, so the Palestinian issue hits home to many of us, the community here,” Elhaddad said. “One of the members of the community, he lost his father, his three siblings and their kids as the youngest five just two days ago in the bombings in Gaza.”

    Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
  • Hashmatullah HaiDari holds a Palestinian flag during the Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins along College Avenue Oct. 13. HaiDari spoke about how Palestinians are being bombed all times of the day by Israel.

    Collegian | Garrett Mogel
  • Participants in the Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins along Laurel Street Oct. 13. Protesters chanted, “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry; Palestine will never die.”

    Collegian | Garrett Mogel
  • A protester holds a Palestinian flag during the Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins along College Avenue Oct. 13. “All the Western media is telling one narrative, one story,” the protester said. “There (are) no reporters in Gaza telling what’s going on. There are on-ground journalists who are being murdered. You know, there’s no one telling the story. No one has told the story of the Palestinians. The United States and Europe (have) always backed Israel because they’re ashamed of what they did.”

    Collegian | Garrett Mogel
  • Shay Jennings walks along Oval Drive during the Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins Oct. 13. “On a daily basis, children are killed,” Jennings said. “The fact that people are rebelling to protect their land, to get their homes back and everything, and people — children — are being bombed in the streets and being told to just deal with it — it’s sick, and it cannot be stood for any longer.”

    Collegian | Garrett Mogel
  • A girl waves a Palestinian flag during a Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins along College Avenue Oct. 13.

    Collegian | Garrett Mogel
  • Two people drive along College Avenue flying a Palestinian flag during the Freedom for Palestine Protest in Fort Collins Oct. 13.

    Collegian | Garrett Mogel
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Editors note: This article was edited to accurately reflect the organizers of the protest, the South West Asian North African Student Organization at Colorado State University did not organize the protest, however they posted about it on their Instagram story.

Colorado State University’s Muslim Student Association organized and promoted a Freedom for Palestine Protest Friday, Oct. 13.

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After Hamas surprise attacks on Israel Oct. 7, the Israeli government responded with airstrikes on Gaza. Protesters gathered to stand up for human rights and educate with the best and most accurate information available about the conflict, organizer and MSA board member Shehab Elhaddad said.

Students and supporters walked from Lucky’s Market down College Avenue, passing Homecoming celebrations on The Oval and proceeding through The Plaza and the Lory Student Center. They then walked back up College Avenue to complete their route. 

Elhaddad led protesters with chants of, “Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry; Palestine will never die,” “Free free Palestine,” and “There is only one solution: intifada revolution.” Intifada is a word meaning “to shake off,” referring to the revolts against Israel after the 1948 Nakba, or the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, Elhaddad said. 

“There’s a lot of false and misinformation out there about the recent attacks because it’s something unprecedented in history for those attacks to have happened,” Elhaddad said. “In my opinion, those attacks — resistance is not terrorism unless you’re killing civilians. So to stand up against (the) government? That is needed when you’re occupied.” 

Elhadadd said roughly 50-70 protesters were expected to attend the protest. Fellow organizer and MSA President Ali Eldeiry echoed the group’s intent to support human rights and to protest any civilian deaths on both sides. 

“It’s more of a humanitarian issue. Regardless of the history of who owns the land, the issue right now is there’s an open-air prison, essentially, of millions of people that are living in this tiny plot of land. And they essentially have zero freedom and are always vulnerable to attacks and aggression from Israel. We do not agree with any sort of civilian death on either side. That’s totally unjustified.” -Ali Eldeiry, Muslim Student Association president

“We condemn any violence from from any source,” Eldeiry said. “There was a vigil yesterday on campus, and we want to respect them as well because they had deaths as well. We’ve just got to be respectful from all sides and just recognize what’s going on because it’s really sad what’s happening in the world right now.”

Elhaddad attended the vigil to assure speakers there that this protest was not against the civilians who died during the Hamas attacks. 

“I wanted to make sure that we’re being respectful of their time to mourn because everyone has the right to mourn,” Elhaddad said. “They have their losses; we have our own losses. Differences aside, no civilians should be killed. … This is not meant to be against civilians who have been murdered. It’s just standing up for human rights for people in Gaza who are getting killed — kids who are getting killed — the same way you’re standing up for mourning the people who have lost.”

One protester said that she had to educate several people in her life about the conflict because of a lack of coverage in the USA about the Palestinian perspective. 

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“There’s the oppressor, Israel, and there’s the oppressed, Palestine: these people, the indigenous people of that land,” the protester said. “It’s not a religious conflict. There are Palestinian Jews. There are Palestinian Christians. There are Palestinian Muslims. This has nothing to do with religion. We love our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

Another protester, Shay Jennings, referred to the 1948 Nakba in her explanation of why she attended the protest. After the call for the evacuation of Gaza, many Palestinians reported fearing another Nakba

“We’re just here because the Palestinian people have been oppressed for almost 80 full years,” Jennings said. “And Israel commits atrocities every day. This is the biggest act of violence against Palestinian people since the occupation or since the instatement of the state of Israel in 1948.” 

In advertising, organizers wrote that this gathering was a peaceful protest for Palestinian human rights and asked that participants bring signs and posters to take a stand against colonial settlements and apartheid.

“(Palestinians) are being treated as second- and third-class citizens,” Shahab said when asked about the meaning of apartheid.

The protesters were mainly focused on civilian deaths and not wanting their tax dollars to go toward the conflict. 

“It’s more of a humanitarian issue,” Eldeiry said. “Regardless of the history of who owns the land, the issue right now is there’s an open-air prison, essentially, of millions of people that are living in this tiny plot of land. And they essentially have zero freedom and are always vulnerable to attacks and aggression from Israel. We do not agree with any sort of civilian death on either side. That’s totally unjustified.”

Reach Ivy Secrest at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.

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About the Contributor
Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.

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  • B

    Beth FrostOct 19, 2023 at 10:11 pm

    I am now considering pulling my child out of this school’s veterinary program.

    And I’m grateful I wasn’t aware of these protests until after the fact.

    Reply
    • Z

      Zahra FarazandehNov 4, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      You want to pull your adult student out of veterinary school because other students are expressing their first amendment rights? If you’re okay with genocide, I feel sorry for your adult student.

      Reply
  • N

    NatanOct 16, 2023 at 10:27 pm

    You write, “We condemn any violence from any source” but the first picture says, “When people are occupied, resistance is Justified” – this does not look like condemning, this is JUSTIFYING the murder, abduction, and rape of innocent kids, women and elderly.

    Reply
    • Z

      Zahra FarazandehNov 4, 2023 at 9:18 pm

      Only carpet bombing and murdering over 4000 children is justified then ? It clearly states in the article that civilian deaths are not justified. Fighting the government that is occupying and oppressing and currently bombing the mother fuck out of them is what they are referring to.

      Reply