Here are 6 incidents of Islamophobia on campus in the last week

Middle East
on 17 Comments

When an incident of vandalism or hate graffiti takes place, most would write it off as an isolated incident – an act of foolishness.  But when these incidents are taking place on college campuses across the U.S. – half a dozen in a week’s time, that’s cause for concern.  So what’s going on here?  Are these still isolated incidents?   Or is campus Islamophobia on the verge of raging out of control?  Take a look at these 6 incidents, and judge for yourself:

Idaho State University

On Monday, April 4th, anti-Muslim DVD’s were placed underneath the windshield wipers of vehicles at an Idaho State University parking lot.  The copies of the DVD’s in white sleeves had a handwritten title: “Idaho Muslims & Tommy Robinson.”  Robinson, is of course the well-known UK hate group leader, responsible for stoking anti-Muslim hatred through the English Defence League and PEGIDA-UK.

According to local news outlet KVPI, the DVD’s contained hateful rhetoric, describing all Muslims as terrorists, and describing the Qur’an as a “terrorist manual.”  At least 20 of the videos were confiscated by the ISU Police, and the incident is under investigation.

University of Michigan

On March 30th, students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor found chalkings with the words “#Stop Islam” and “Trump 2016” scrawled largely in a common area at the school.  Even though the message was offensive to many students, the school refused to remove the chalkings, citing “free speech.”

University of California-Riverside

The Department of Ethnic Studies at UC-Riverside reported news of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim vandalism during spring break.  A Palestinian flag which was hanging in the department was torn down, along with mailboxes being rummaged through, and pictures of female students defaced.  According to a professor in the department, Dylan Rodriguez, the crime was motivated by “anti-Muslim/Islamophobic sentiment.”

University of Massachusetts

On Monday, graffiti with the words “Stop Islam” was found outside the Fine Arts Building at UMass.  This was just the latest in a string of incidents involving race and religion at the university.  Earlier this year, a swastika was found at a campus restroom, and racist fliers were sent to printers and fax machines on campus.  The university held a diversity forum this past week to discuss this rash of issues.

University of Kansas

Twitter user @therealshegufta – who is the former vice vresident of the University Senate, at the University of Kansas pointed out an anti-Muslim chalking that appeared on campus Monday:

https://twitter.com/therealshegufta/status/717058236176793600

The message reads: “Choose One – Pro-Islam <> Pro-Women & Gay Rights.”

This comes on the heels of pro-Trump chalkings appearing across campus.

Arizona State University

Last week, the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) at ASU held their annual “Islam Awareness Week” – an event that helps promote understanding and engagement on campus.  The MSA spent nearly $650 in producing materials and signs to promote the events of the week, but found that these signs were repeatedly being torn down and thrown in the trash.   While the student group is downplaying the incidents, they do think that the signs being torn down were a reflection of anti-Muslim animus.

Bonus – Because Hate’s Not Just Reserved For Campuses, But Legislatures Too!

A Tennessee lawmaker was caught distributing an anti-Islam DVD to her colleagues in the state legislature.  Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) distributed the hate DVD “America’s Mosques Exposed – Video Evidence They Are War Factories” to her colleagues, which has alarmed many.  A complaint against Lynn was filed by three fellow legislators (all Democrats) for “reckless and careless disregard for those of the Muslim faith.”

Cause for Concern?

At first glance, most of these incidents seem relatively innocuous.  But is this signaling part of a larger trend?  With at least six examples in the past week alone, the answer would point to yes.

For Muslim students especially, this must be of great concern.  Examine for a moment, the recent study done by CAIR-California – where statistics indicate that over half of Muslim students under the age of 18 have experienced some sort of religious-based bullying.  In fact, Muslim students are twice as likely to be the target of bullying than other students, according to studies.  Now imagine finally progressing beyond the confines of a grade-school environment, only to see this trend continue on a university level.

This should also raise questions as to where this is all stemming from.  Is this a product of “Trumpism” – the heightened divisive rhetoric from the election, permeating the campus environment?  Are students feeling more emboldened to openly express their bigotry, when they know it is likely to go unpunished?  Does this tie into the heightened rhetoric surrounding the anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on many campuses throughout the U.S.? As we are well aware, the discussion surrounding this topic often implements anti-Arab and anti-Muslim tropes in order to advance the cause forward.

Whatever the reason, it is impossible to ignore this recent wave of incidents, without juxtaposing them against the growing list of Islamophobic incidents in the past few months.  These violent incidents provide a backdrop of why the campus incidents are so disturbing to Muslim college students – as amped up rhetoric often results in amped up violence, against Muslims and those who are perceived to be Muslim.

About Imraan Siddiqi

Imraan Siddiqi is a writer, activist and Executive Director of CAIR-Arizona.  He has been published in a wide variety of outlets on the subject of Islamophobia and American Muslims.  He is also editor of the website HateHurts.net – a project to track Islamophobia and its fallout on multiple communities.  You can follow him on Twitter @imraansiddiqi

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17 Responses

  1. moltkedk
    April 7, 2016, 4:06 pm

    Similar chalkings were found at UCSB, including one that read “torture Muslims.” http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/26856/

    • K Renner
      April 7, 2016, 10:02 pm

      That’s pretty nuts. Unfortunately the fact is that the hasbara camp works hand in glove with people who’re just generically racist or ethnically/religiously bigoted a whole lot of the time.

      Especially when it comes to attacks or insults on Palestinian symbolism, on campuses or elsewhere.

  2. Annie Robbins
    April 7, 2016, 9:04 pm

    over half of Muslim students under the age of 18 have experienced some sort of religious-based bullying.

    that’s an exorbitant amount.

    Even though the message was offensive to many students, the school refused to remove the chalkings, citing “free speech.”

    here is what the source said

    a university spokesman said Thursday that it allows messages to be written in chalk on campus plazas. ….Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the University of Michigan, said in a statement on Wednesday: “Someone used chalk to write a #stopislam message on the main square in the heart of our campus known as the Diag. Attacks directed toward any member or group within the University of Michigan community, based on a belief or characteristic, are inconsistent with our values of respect, civility and equality.”

    “We all understand that where speech is free it will sometimes wound,” Fitzgerald said. “But our message is this: We are fully committed to fostering an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of everyone. Tonight we are reminded there is much work yet to be done.”

    so while the attacks based on a religious belief are “inconsistent” with their values they allow them. hmm.

    • Jon66
      April 7, 2016, 10:33 pm

      “Trump 2016” scrawled largely in a common area at the school. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/04/here-are-6-incidents-of-islamophobia-on-campus-in-the-last-week/#comment-833930

      Maybe we should let them drink at 18 and vote at 21.

    • echinococcus
      April 8, 2016, 10:35 am

      so while the attacks based on a religious belief are “inconsistent” with their values they allow them. hmm

      That’s precisely why I’ll gladly buy a beer to the UM people, who sound as if they were the last of the disappearing species of people who remember about free speech and the 1st. They don’t let their touchy-feely respect of religiosity interfere with exercise of the First.

      Unlike their upright ISU counterparts who aren’t afraid of getting physical, no matter wussy free speech nonsense: “At least 20 of the videos were confiscated by the ISU Police”. Distributing videos causes grievous bodily harm.

      While boondocks legislators go one better:
      “A complaint against Lynn was filed by three fellow legislators (all Democrats) for “reckless and careless disregard for those of the Muslim faith.” On the grounds of draconian Tennessee anti-blasphemy laws, I suppose.

      Stupidity didn’t neglect the High Scholars:
      “A Palestinian flag which was hanging in the department was torn down….
      According to a professor in the department, Dylan Rodriguez, the crime was motivated by anti-Muslim/Islamophobic sentiment.”
      I suppose Perfessor Rodríguez teaches about the difference between Saudi and Palestine… and the absence of Zionists.

      There’s even more clueless than the Professor, of course:
      “If the bigotry of Trump supporters at KU wasn’t obvious enough last week, here’s their blatant Islamophobia today”
      twitted in response to a message that reads: “Choose One – Pro-Islam Pro-Women & Gay Rights.”
      Islam, just as any other of the three Semitic religions, is of course a stout defender of women’s rights, not to mention that of people of various sexual preferences…

    • Eva Smagacz
      April 8, 2016, 11:42 am

      I propose ringing each graffiti with chalked stars of David. The plaza will be pristinely scrubbed within hours, lest graffiti hurts feelings of Jewish students, free speech be damned

      • ritzl
        April 8, 2016, 12:05 pm

        Yup. You have to wonder if these statement-issuers don’t realize, in the evening at home with a couple of scotchs in them, how completely feckless [or insert adjectives here] they sound.

      • hophmi
        April 10, 2016, 3:49 am

        Any evidence to support this premise, Eva? Didn’t think so. Maybe you should focus on your own country’s anti-Semitism problem.

      • K Renner
        April 10, 2016, 11:34 am

        Sounds about right. I know that the “SSI”s on campuses throw shit fits over “hate” graffiti that criticizes Israel, but they’re almost unanimously silent across the board when anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, or anti-Middle Easterner in general graffiti pops up.

        It’s no coincidence that many of the people who write hate graffiti against “the Arabs” or “the Muslims” seem to think that they “can’t be racist/religiously bigoted” if they love Jews and Israel.

  3. JustJessetr
    April 8, 2016, 8:12 am

    Islamophobic sentiment on campus wouldn’t surprise me, but most of these examples (at least from the brief descriptions here) don’t lead me to believe they are indicative of such.

    “along with mailboxes being rummaged through, and pictures of female students defaced. According to a professor in the department, Dylan Rodriguez, the crime was motivated by “anti-Muslim/Islamophobic sentiment.”

    That’s a serious stretch to call any of that anti-Islam.

    “Earlier this year, a swastika was found at a campus restroom.”

    Swastikas are not indicative of anti-Islam. I find them in past decades being gleefully drawn by Muslims and Leftists to describe Jews.

    “and racist fliers were sent to printers and fax machines on campus. The university held a diversity forum this past week to discuss this rash of issues.”

    The printer and fax machine issue was discovered to be done by an equal opportunity hater white supremacist. Targeting everyboydy, not just Muslims.

    “The message reads: “Choose One – Pro-Islam Pro-Women & Gay Rights.”

    Political Islam is most definitely misogynistic and homophobic. This could have been written by someone who is pro-Islam trying to out the hatred within Islam.

    “pro-Trump chalkings appearing across campus.”

    The man is a pig, but it’s not a threat to anyone to scrawl his name. He’s running for office.

    “For Muslim students especially, this must be of great concern. Examine for a moment, the recent study done by CAIR-California – where statistics indicate that over half of Muslim students under the age of 18 have experienced some sort of religious-based bullying. In fact, Muslim students are twice as likely to be the target of bullying than other students, according to studies. Now imagine finally progressing beyond the confines of a grade-school environment, only to see this trend continue on a university level.”

    Well, without any violence, this can’t be considered an unsafe environment. After all, Jews have been complaining about bullying on campus for years, only to see it poo-pooed by the Leftists and MW alike. So MW better erase this whole article otherwise you’ll be seen as hypocritical, not that it’s ever stopped you all before.

  4. JustJessetr
    April 8, 2016, 1:08 pm

    I don’t know. You tell me.

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