Chinese international students at Cornell University booed and heckled a young Uyghur woman and walked out of a campus event in protest Thursday as she described her family’s experience with persecution in China, according to Axios.
During a speaking event at Cornell University featuring Democratic Michigan Rep. Elise Slotkin, student and Uyghur Muslim Rizwangul NurMuhammad reportedly asked Slotkin why the U.S. was responding so quickly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but taking little action in response to China’s genocide against Uyghurs, Axios reported. NurMuhammad reportedly said she has not spoken to her brother since he was arrested in 2017 when Chinese authorities detained Uyghurs in Western China.
Chinese students reportedly responded by heckling and taunting her, according to Axios.
“There was audible booing and jeering going on from the Chinese students partway through her question, and during the answer they started to get up and just walked out of the room,” Pedro Fernandez, a Cornell student, told Axios.
Slotkin confirmed the events in a statement posted to her Twitter account Tuesday.
“I responded (to NurMuhammad’s question) by pointing out what is well known about Chinese policy toward the Uyghur community: that the government has carried out imprisonment, forced labor, and forced indoctrination,” Slotkin tweeted. “In response, a group of Chinese international students got up and walked out, in what appeared to be a coordinated protest to the criticism of the Chinese government.”
Since then, the young woman who asked me the question has become the victim of bullying & intimidation by some fellow students. There's no excuse for that behavior, and I expect Cornell to ensure that all students can express themselves free of intimidation or threats. 6/6
— Rep. Elissa Slotkin (@RepSlotkin) March 15, 2022
A program administrator reportedly told the remaining students to reach out to Chinese students for reconciliation, but Cornell did not reach out to NurMuhammad, according to Axios.
“[W]e have an expectation and responsibility to engage with viewpoints that we disagree with,” the school’s administration told students in an email after the event, according to Axios. “[W]e must also respect that walkouts are a legitimate form of protest and an appropriate expression of disapproval.”
NurMuhammad told Axios that the protest made her feel unwelcome.
“I don’t feel safe,” NurMuhammad said. “The walkout made me feel numb.”
Cornell did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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