By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Nearly two years ago, Ahmad Mehmood stood up in front of Bowling Green City Council and asked city leaders to stand up for people from different lands.
On Monday, Mehmood was back – this time thanking City Council for taking a stand against discrimination in the community.
“I didn’t expect life here to be as easy,” said Mehmood, who has been a student at Bowling Green State University for two years. As a “brown Muslim student” from India, he was prepared to face discrimination and distrust.
But instead, he found acceptance.
“There is no space for hate,” he said praising the anti-discrimination resolution passed by City Council in January of 2017. “The City of Bowling Green has made it clear. It won’t accept that from its residents.”
Back in 2017, as council was considering the anti-discrimination resolution, Mehmood stressed that for international students the measure was far more than a symbolic act.
“We’ve always felt like we belong here,” he said on Monday evening. “We share something bigger than what divides us.”
Mehmood talked about his homeland of India, where groups are targeted as part of the caste system.
“We don’t want our country to be like that,” he said.
No two people are identical, he said. “It’s almost like finding the same two colored socks on a Monday morning.”
Yet, there are enough similarities that different people can coexist. “We can live side by side,” he said.
To show appreciation to city leaders for their efforts, Mehmood invited City Council, the mayor and others to the annual Muslim Student Association dinner on Oct. 19 on campus.
Council member Sandy Rowland thanked Mehmood for the invitation, and said she would attend.
“I’m proud and happy to have you here,” Rowland said. “I want to thank you for your kind words, and want you to know you are appreciated in Bowling Green.”
Mayor Dick Edwards thanked the Muslim Student Association for its involvement in the community. “I too have been the beneficiary of their very thoughtful invitations to various events.”
The resolution passed by council in 2017 condemns violence, hate speech and discrimination targeting Muslim people and expresses solidarity with the Muslim community and all those targeted for their ethnicity, race or religion.
The resolution calls on council to:
- Condemn all hateful speech, violent action, and discrimination directed at Muslim people and those perceived to be Muslim anywhere in the city or outside the city;
- Reject political tactics that use fear and misinformation to manipulate voters or to gain power or influence, and commits to prevent this from happening in the City of Bowling Green;
- Commit to pursuing a policy agenda that affirms civil and human rights, and ensures that people subjected to hate speech, violence, or discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or immigration status can turn to government without fear of recrimination;
- Reaffirm the value of a pluralistic society, the beauty of a culture composed of multiple cultures, and the inalienable right of every person to live and practice their faith without fear;
- Urge the citizens of Bowling Green to increase their involvement with the Human Relations Commission, Not In Our Town, and other community organizations, programs, and events that promote these principles, including by engaging with the local Muslim community and in partnership with other faith communities, to help sustain a culture of peace and understanding in Bowling Green.