A Twitter fight between two University of Central Florida students went viral after Rayyan Sukkarieh called for the expulsion of Kathy Zhu.
The controversy began Thursday afternoon, after Zhu tweeted photographs of Muslim students holding an event where they were encouraging students to try on a hijab and giving out free head coverings.
“I passed this booth that had a big banner that said try on a Hijab,” Zhu said. “So, I thought that was kind of weird so I posted it online and I talked about my beliefs.”
In her tweet, Zhu wrote, “There’s a ‘try a hijab on’ booth at my college campus. So, you’re telling me that it’s now just a fashion accessory and not a religious thing? Or are you just trying to get women used to being oppressed under Islam.”
Following Zhu’s initial tweet, one of the girls who organized the “Try on a hijab event,” Rayyan Sukkarieh, turned to Twitter to blast Zhu’s comments about Islam and Hijabs.
“I’m in the back of the first pic (w/o my consent lol) and I invited you to try one on and you said no thank you,” Sukkarieh wrote. “You didn’t take the time to even ask question or try to understand what Hijab is. That’s ignorant on you. You literally sprinted after taking the photos. Pathetic.
Sukkarieh then sent out a follow up tweet calling for Zhu to be expelled because of her comments and opinions about the event.
“TWITTER DO YOUR THING,” Sukkarieh wrote. “Let’s get this girl expelled. Email email@example.com ( UCF OFFICE OF STUDENT CONDUCT) and send them Kathy’s tweet, including the photos in her thread. Ignorance will not be tolerated on my campus.”
Zhu told Knight News, while she does not believe it was Sukkarieh’s intent to set up an inappropriate event, she still feels that Sukkarieh’s reaction to the whole controversy was over the top.
“Of course (their intent) was nothing explicitly bad. But I do believe this is a way to get people to normalize Islam,” Zhu said. “That’s fine, they can do whatever they want. But they shouldn’t try to expel someone for disagreeing with their views.”
Sukkarieh tweets, set social media on fire with some people supporting her and others condemning her for her anti-first amendment tweet.
“Chilling,” journalist Andy C. Ngo tweeted. “Student at @UCF is mobilizing Twitter mobs to try and get a peer expelled because she was offended by tweet (other student expressed opinion against religious modesty headscarf). Sad that a great tool for communication is abused as a tool for bullying.”
Since the incident, UCF issued the following statement to Knight News:
“The University of Central Florida has received a number of emailed complaints suggesting that disciplinary action be taken against students involved in a disagreement being played out via social media,” said Assistant Director of UCF Communications, Mark Schlueb. “Upon review, neither student’s actions as reported to the university violate our Rules of Conduct.”
Zhu told Knight News she was glad to hear UCF’s decision not to pursue a case against her, and explained her thoughts on this whole situation.
“I think it’s kind of ridiculous how people are trying to censor others for disagreeing with them, and then trying to get them kicked out. That’s the definition of fascism,” Zhu said.
Knight News reached out to Sukkarieh for comment on the situation, however she declined to speak. Since her initial tweet, Sukkarieh has changed her Twitter username and set her account to private.