FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2016
Early this morning, on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UMN) campus, yet another incident inciting islamophobic rhetoric was discovered. This incident, a vandalism, occurred on the Washington Avenue pedestrian bridge, one of the places with the most traffic on campus, where many students have painted panels advertising their student groups. The University of Minnesota’s Muslim Students Association (MSA) had their panel vandalized with the words “ISIS” spray painted over their display.
The incitation of the word “ISIS” graffitied over the the MSA panel has the effect of instigating more and exacerbating already present islamophobic sentiments, a clear form of hate speech. This comes immediately after another incident that happened the day before, involving personal attacks towards members of Students for Justice in Palestine, which also incited islamophobic rhetoric. The vandalism that occurred and flyers posted fallaciously associated Muslims on campus with terrorism, something that should never be tolerated at an academic institution.
These acts not only perpetuate islamophobic sentiments, but also outrageously twist the image and mission of MSA and demean the work that they do. This is hurting the Muslim community and Muslim students on campus, causing Muslim students to feel unsafe and unwelcome. Muslim students on campus have the expectation of being in a space where diversity of cultures, religions, and thoughts are understood and respected. This expectation was grossly breached by the vandalism that occurred, and we are deeply disturbed and disheartened.
We are solid in our affirmation and belief that all xenophobic actions should be condemned and met with formal action. We expect the University of Minnesota to take an open and solid stance against this action, and in general, all bigoted rhetoric affecting Muslims and other minority students. It needs to take tangible steps in being proactive about preventing such actions to be normalized. We demand the release of a statement outlining actions to be taken and steps to move forward. This vandalism should be fully investigated and responded to by the proper authorities. The Muslim community is already in a fragile place, and needs this hate speech to be acknowledged and dealt with in a proper and timely manner.