The Somali Students’ Association at Ohio State University says it had no affiliation with Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the student who plowed his silver Honda into a crowd and began attacking people with a butcher knife, and the association strongly condemned the attack.
“We know that some will connect this tragedy with the ethnicity or religion of the attacker. Neither our Somali heritage nor our faith condones the harming of innocent people,” the SSA said in a statement released Tuesday morning.The group said it works for peace and unity on campus and in Columbus.
“As students, we definitely foresee the campus atmosphere changing within the next few weeks, with students being more on edge and vigilant while on and around campus. Regarding the suspect, we want to be clear, our organization does not have any affiliation to this person,” the statement said.
Columbus is home to more than 50,000 people of Somali heritage, 99 percent of whom are Muslim. Civil war in Somali in 1991 drove many to seek refugee status and resettle in the United States and elsewhere. Over the years, Somalians who settled in Columbus then sponsored family members to join them.
The SSA urged its members to contact police if they experience backlash from yesterday’s events on campus. The organization said it would stand in solidarity with other students at a Buckeye Strong Together event tonight at St. John’s Arena.
It also cautioned members not to talk with reporters.
“We would also like to urge our members to refrain from interacting with media outlets, especially amidst all the uncertainty regarding yesterday.” The group has not immediately responded to requests for interviews.
The university announced plans for the event at St. John’s Arena, which will include music and remarks from OSU President Michael Drake, Undergraduate Student Government President Gerard Basalla, Senior Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston and Director of Public Safety Monica Moll.