Parents concerned for Miami students studying abroad in Paris

Some Miami University parents have voiced concerns to university officials about students currently traveling abroad in Europe and in Paris as reports continue to develop on the events surrounding Wednesday’s attack and Friday’s twin hostage crises.

There are 527 Miami students studying abroad through Jan. 25, according to Cheryl Young, Miami assistant provost for global initiatives and coordinator for the Miami University Global Assistance Program.

Of those, about 200 are studying in various European cities and may pass through Paris, and 20 students are participating in a program based in the French capital.

“We have had a lot of parents calling in concern,” Young said. “The biggest question is why aren’t we canceling the program and bringing them home, and we don’t see the need to do so yet.”

She added that the university is in constant contact with the Paris program’s two faculty advisers and are following security guidelines from the French government.

“Our faculty are doing a fabulous job keeping us in the loop,” she said.

Dr. Jonathan Strauss, chair of Miami University’s French Department, told the Journal-News he was “shocked, and disturbed by the violence, and also to some extent, not entirely surprised” by Wednesday’s attack.

“(Charlie Hebdo)…sort of positioned itself as a lightning rod especially in a particularly contentious area, which is the theocratic Muslim fundamentalist presence in Europe and throughout the world, and ongoing European — and especially French — ideas about free speech and secularism,” he said.

Strauss, whose wife is Parisian, also emphasized the safety of Miami’s students.

“My family is in France, so I feel this very acutely,” he said. “If we thought they were in danger we would get everybody back.”

The Islamic Center of Cincinnati, located in West Chester Twp., issued a press release on Thursday in response to the attack on Charlie Hebdo, joining “fellow Americans in extending their deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” and stating that their fundamental values include freedom of speech, diversity of race, religion, language, and belief, and that Islam is above all, a religion of peace and mercy.

“No belief, cause, or grievance justifies such senseless violence,” the press release states. “We pray that the perpetrators be found and quickly brought to justice.”

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