Activities & Organizations News

SJP organizes community prayer, protest

Students protest and call for divestment on Friday, May 10. | Emma Christensen/The Cougar

Friday afternoon, Students for Justice in Palestine HTX organized a community prayer event and protest at the Butler Plaza in front of M.D. Anderson Library to build community support after the events of the encampment on Wednesday and continue to call for the University to divest.

The prayer was organized to bring the community together after two students were arrested at an encampment that was dismantled by the police, said SJP representative and commuter science senior Reem, who chose to withhold their last name due to fear of retaliation. 

“It’s about bringing our community together. After the horrific events that we experienced yesterday and the university’s violence against the students, it’s a way to regroup and re-ground ourselves,” Reem said. 

The Khutbah, which serves as a formal occasion for public preaching, was led by a local mosque priest, Sheikh Ammar Shukry. 

A protest swiftly followed the prayer and students chanted various statements including: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” “Free Free Free Palestine, occupation is a crime” and “Renu Renu, you can’t hide, you’re complacent in genocide.” 

It is important to demand that the University divest from weapons manufacturers and stop being complicit in genocide, said history senior Leo Green. 

“I am here protesting the university’s lack of transparency in where their funds are going and I am protesting the genocide in Gaza in Palestine right now,” Green said. 

The protests are a good way for the student body to engage and learn about the conflict in the Middle East and it’s important to hold UH accountable for their actions, Green said.

“I think it’s so important that this reaches as many people as possible because what is happening in the Middle East right now is absolutely abhorrent and the fact that we have a hand in it is inexcusable,” Green said. 

Last week, the Student Government Association passed a resolution that called on the University to divest UH funds from companies that provide and support Israel in their war on Palestine and condemned Texas’s governor Gregg Abbott’s executive order.  

Texas law prohibits government entities from investing or entering contracts with companies that boycott Israel and certain energy companies as well as companies that discriminate against firearm and ammunition companies.

SJP plans to sit in and attend the upcoming Board of Regents meeting on May 15 to call for the University to divest from weapons manufacturing companies that supply the Israeli military with weapons. 

“This is a protest that we are going to push and continue pushing for divestment no matter what excuses the university makes. And they have no right and liberty to create these decisions about their divestment without looking us in the face doing it,” Reem said. “They need to be able to actually face us as they sign on that we will actually continue investing in genocide.”

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