Shahd Abukhdeir says she couldn’t fully find her space at Mitchell Hamline during her 1L year. So this year, a group of students and she “decided to create one.” The result was the school’s newest student organization, the Muslim Law Students Association, which recently debuted with an online event on building awareness of the Muslim community.
“Our voices are hardly heard in the legal field, and it is important for us to help each other change that narrative,” added Abukhdeir, 24, who was born in Minnesota and moved to East Jerusalem, Palestine, for six years before moving back. She is the organization’s first president and hopes to use her law degree in human and civil rights work.
“I’m overjoyed to see the Mitchell Hamline community’s enthusiasm around this group,” said Professor Dena Sonbol ’08, the organization’s faculty adviser. “It’s very important to welcome, understand, appreciate, and celebrate diversity in all its forms, which includes religious diversity and diversity in country of origin and or culture.
“The time is now to expand our understanding of diversity and what it means to apply an equity and inclusion lens by at the very least including all diverse populations in the school’s conversations and efforts around DEI.”
Vice President and Treasurer Sayna Parsi, a second-year student, says the organization will provide Muslim students with opportunities “to connect with other students and faculty that have similar backgrounds and beliefs, even if they are not practicing the religion.”
Parsi, 23, grew up in Iran before moving to Winona, Minnesota in 2006. She says looks forward to working with other affinity groups to be a resource “for those that are interested in learning more about Islam and reduce misconceptions about Islam and those who identify as Muslim. We’ll also show the diversity that exists within the Muslim religion.”
Ridwan Bobe, a 22-year-old first-year student, is the group’s secretary. He’s interested in real estate and property law, as well as dispute resolution and mediation. He was born in Minneapolis after his family immigrated from Somalia in the 1990s. “I am happy we have an organization that represents us and allows for others to connect with us as well,” he said.
“I also hope that it can be helpful for others to get to learn who around them is Muslim and see how they can interact and learn about Islam the right way.”