DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Two students from Annapolis High School helped organize and host a peaceful walkout in support of Palestine on October 26.
Abd-alazzez Alshawaly, a 17-year-old 12th grade student, and Abdulla Allami, a 16-year-old 10th grader, worked together with a group of other students to coordinate the event.
Allami told The Arab American News that the decision to organize the walkout was in response to the ongoing events in Palestine.
“I felt a strong desire to express my support,” he said. “It was evident that many others shared this interest, prompting me to take initiative in organizing an event to demonstrate our collective backing for this cause. I approached Abd-alazzez Alshawaly, the president of the Arab Student Union, seeking collaboration on a potential walkout or protest. To my satisfaction, he agreed to join forces and together, we successfully gained approval from our school’s administration to proceed with our planned event.”
Alshawaly, who is also president of Annapolis’ Executive Council, told The Arab American News that while the board backed out of sponsoring the event for fear of backlash against the program, they continued their support as individual students.
“I helped organize the walkout with Abdulla and set rules and guidelines for students to follow,” he said. “I made posters and also passed out flyers during the walkout.”
Ziad Saad, a teacher who is also the sponsor of the Arab Student Union at Annapolis, said that the Arab Student Union was going to support the event as long as students agreed to abide by the club’s guidelines and regulations, but some of the students involved could not commit 100 percent to following such guidelines.
“They did not want to put the club in a predicament, so we decided it is best to keep it as an individual event,” he said. “With that being said, the Arab Student Union wholeheartedly supports all our students and club members as well as their right to free speech.”
Allami said that despite the minor setback, the two continued to work together to ensure a peaceful event would take place.
“Throughout this process, Abd and I worked closely together to establish a set of comprehensive rules and guidelines,” he said. “These guidelines were created to ensure that both our teachers and fellow students were well informed about the event’s purpose, objectives and the logistics involved. Our collaborative efforts were crucial in orchestrating a successful and well organized demonstration of support for the Palestinian cause.”
Despite the misrepresentation of Crestwood’s walkout in national news media, Alshawaly said that they weren’t going to let that deter them from their goal.
“Annapolis wants the end of senseless murder of innocent lives and the need for peace,” he said. “No matter how we get pictured, we needed to stand up for what we believe in.”
Allami said that it’s a matter of principle when it comes to standing up for what is right.
“It’s a matter of principle that we, as individuals, possess our own unique voices and perspectives on this issue,” he said. “We wanted to share it no matter what people pictured us as. We are our own people and shouldn’t care about negativity; we should just use it as an energy to push harder and fight for the innocent lives being taken in Palestine every day.”
Alshawaly also said that he wants the community to know that he is proud of their efforts in organizing the walkout.
“I am an Arab American who’s always willing to stand up for something I believe in,” he said. “We stand with Palestine and could never understand what they are going through. I think the walkout went well and we had students from all backgrounds support. It was peaceful the entire time, so in all, I think it was a success. I am very proud of all the Annapolis students who showed support.”
Both students said that they will continue their efforts in supporting Palestine.
“I am someone who will stand up for what I think is right and will support myself with facts to show my support to causes,” Allami said. “I will also be joining the Arab Student Union to assist in further support of the cause in doing a fundraiser. I will also try my best to continue showing my support.”
Allami said that while he is proud of the turnout, he believes there could have been a broader outreach to more students.
“I believe the event was successful, as it gathered support from students of diverse backgrounds and maintained a peaceful atmosphere throughout,” he said. “While reflecting on the experience, I recognize the potential for a broader outreach in the future, aiming to inform a larger student body about such initiatives. Nevertheless, I take immense pride in the Annapolis students who joined us in this display of solidarity and we extend our gratitude to all those who participated and contributed to amplifying our voices in support of this cause.”