Sunday, February 25, 2007

Defend Edward Said Mural Aat SF State!


The General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) would like to ask for your support in our project to unveil a Palestinian cultural mural commemorating the late Dr. Edward Said on the Cesar Chavez Student Center building at San Francisco State University. We have been working hard to finalize the mural and have reached a roadblock that we cannot overcome without your help.

The petition attached will give you a better understanding of our difficulty in dealing with the President of San Francisco State University, Robert Corrigan. Also, to read more about the situation, see

We would like to ask of you two things:

1. Please sign the following letter we plan to send to the President after receiving valued signatures of concurrence.

2. Please forward it to as many people as possible.

3. Please write a personal or group letter to President Corrigan in favor of the Palestinian cultural mural honoring Dr. Edward Said. The President’s contact information is:,,

President Robert Corrigan
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132


General Union of Palestine Students
1650 Holloway Ave
Business Office, M100B
San Francisco, CA 94132


Maria Liliana Cortez
1650 Holloway Ave.
Business Office, C-134
San Francisco, CA 94132

For more information you can visit:

Thank you for all of your help. It is greatly appreciated!

In Peace and Solidarity,

The General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS)

To: San Francisco State University President, Robert A. Corrigan

We are writing to express our concern regarding your refusal of the mural celebrating Palestinian culture and commemorating the late Dr. Edward Said at San Francisco State University. In addition to blocking the Palestinian mural before it was officially submitted to you for your approval, you have placed an indefinite moratorium on all future artwork on the Cesar Chavez Student Center building.

This ban has come in the wake of more than a year of painstaking efforts by the mural committee to follow the established process. The Palestinian Cultural Mural Committee, which is composed of faculty, staff, administrators and students, from a wide array of ethnic and religious backgrounds. The committee had choosen two artists, a Palestinian Muslim male and a American Jewish female. The committee held more then a year of meetings open to the public, held two town hall meetings concerning the elements to be included in the mural artwork before beginning the actual design. The outcome of the meetings resulted in over two hundred responses, the highest level of feedback on any proposed mural to date, with only two negative responses towards the tentative elements. Following these meetings were mural meetings open to the public where the mural design was finalized. The mural has been supported by a resolution passed unanimously by Associated Students Incorporated (ASI) and has been approved, by a vote of 6 (for) and 2 (against), by the Student Center Governing Board (SCGB). This vast approval reflects the overwhelming support that San Francisco State University’s elected student body representatives have for this mural. In spite of this, only an hour and a half after the SCGB vote, you sent a letter stating your deep disappointment that the Board had approved a mural that you considered "unsatisfactory."

In your letters, and in subsequent meetings with student representatives, You claimed that the mural is "conflict centered", represents a "culture of violence", and that you “won’t allow hatred towards Jews on these walls.” You have given no evidence to justify these claims, only pointing to the mural’s portrayal of Handala and a Palestinian house key with ‘Al-Awda’ (the return) written in Arabic calligraphy. Handala is a widely popular cultural icon created by the late Palestinian cartoonist, Naji Salim al-Ali. Handala depicts a poor, barefoot, Palestinian child, who represents a unified identity for millions of Palestinians struggling to gain dignity and human rights. The Palestinian key, in conjunction with the word ‘Al-Awda,’ represents how Palestinians have adapted to different cultures without forgetting where they came from. The Palestinian house key is the symbol that represents a collective memory, culture and identity of the Palestinian Diaspora whose families still carry keys to the only homes they knew.

By asking for the removal of Handala and the Palestinian house key you are effectively redefining Palestinian identity and culture, which is something that only Palestinians have the right to do. It is unjust and undemocratic to demand that the students exclude these items from the mural, as they are legitimate cultural and historical icons of the Palestinian experience.

Additionally, it seems you wish to deny the long history of San Francisco State University by claiming that this mural "runs counter to the core values of The University." San Francisco State University has pioneered the study and representation of oppressed people around the world through its College of Ethnic Studies. The Palestinian mural stands proudly in this tradition by representing the history, accomplishments, and the current struggle of the Palestinian people. Your denial of the mural is further a rejection of everything that is enshrined in the 'Cesar Chavez Student Center.' Rosa Parks, Richard Oaks, and Malcolm X, all commemorated in the student center, represent leaders who fought against injustice and for the rights of oppressed minorities. Dr. Edward Said certainly stands in this tradition through his lifelong dedication to causes of peace and justice as well as the struggle of the Palestinian people. Dr. Edward Said's famous treatise Orientalism, taught at San Francisco State University, is an attempt to debunk the largely negative and inaccurate portrayal of Arab people in the history of Western culture. Instead of standing with San Francisco State University's proud tradition, you have placed yourself in opposition to it.

As members of the community, we are disappointed that a President of one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the nation would make such belittling statements. As members of the community, we hope you will stand with San Francisco State University's proud tradition of being culturally open-minded. We also hope that you will deplore racist stereotypes of Arabs and Arab culture as Edward Said critiques in Orientalism and that you will allow Palestinians to be treated as equal humans, with dignity and respect.

We expect you to stand on the side of respect, justice, and democracy by lifting the ban on murals and approving the Palestinian mural as it is submitted to you by the Student Center Governing Board.


The Undersigned

go to to view current signatures and add your own.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What do you think of Obadiah Shoher's extensive reply to Ed Said at ?