Protesters take to North Plaza, rally to fly Kurdish flag during International Week

Members of the Kurdistan Students Organization and other supporters protest the new International Week flag display policy on the North Plaza. (Jake McLernon)

The Kurdistan Students Organization (KSO) and Arabic Students Association held a joint protest at the North Plaza on April 5 over a new policy regarding the display of flags during the upcoming International Week. 

The two groups were speaking out against Mason’s recent decision not to hang the flags of unrecognized nations, including that of Kurdistan, in the Johnson Center during International Week.

The university's recently revised policy states that only the flags of countries listed on student immigration documents will be allowed to be displayed. Controversy arose in 2009 when the flag of East Turkestan, a disputed region in China, was displayed in the JC. 

Rizhna Chener, a psychology major and president of the Kurdistan Students Organization, said that she and her peers were speaking out to educate students about their creed. The event attracted about 30 supporters.

“We’re trying to show people what we stand for,” she said. “Mason wants to push us aside.”

Student reaction to the protest was mixed.

“These are not real countries,” said Mustansar Haidat, a senior sociology major from Pakistan. “That’s not Mason’s fault.”

Haidat said he understood Mason’s position.

“[The students] can protest all they want, but [Mason] has to look at what they accept as legitimate. When Kurdistan becomes a country they can have a flag.”

Others were more supportive of the protesters.

“It’s great to see students behind a cause,” said freshman conflict analysis and resolution major Eric Altschuler. “You never see that with people in our generation. It’s wrong [for Mason] to just shut people out. As soon as you delegitimize someone’s beliefs and expressions you’re violating their constitutional rights.”

Chener said that the KSO was debating holding further protests before or during International Week.

International Week officially starts on Saturday, April 9. Activities and events conclude on Saturday, April 16.


Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)
Student Media Group: