Anti-Muslim posters cause stir, administrative response

by Eric Roper

Breaking NewsMonday, Oct. 8 3:36 p.m.

University officials are investigating several hundred posters hung around campus this morning attacking the Muslim community.

The posters, on standard letter-sized paper, read, "Hate Muslims? So do we!!!" Below the statement is a picture of a Muslim man next to a diagram describing a "typical Muslim." Some features mentioned include "venom from mouth," "suicide vest," and "peg-leg for smuggling children and heroin."

The GW Young America's Foundation is named as a contact on the poster, but leaders of the conservative organization said they had no involvement.

"This was not us," said Sergio Gor, president of YAF. "I want to find out who it is. These people ought to be brought to (Student Judicial Services) or something."

The posters also advertise for the Islamo-Fascism Awareness week, being held by YAF beginning October 19, which is slated to feature several lectures on counterterrorism. Iris Somberg, vice president of YAF, said they have not yet advertised for the event publicly.

"I'm sure there's always some group in opposition to any political event but I wouldn't want to speculate and accuse anyone of (hanging up the posters)," she said.

Tim Miller, executive director of the Student Activities Center, said Student Judicial Services, the University Police Department, GW Housing and SAC are all investigating the matter.

"It's definitely gotten to the vice presidential level, and it's definitely gotten to the presidential level," Miller said. He added that the posters were hung throughout the campus.

"With my understanding on how widespread (the posters) were, it would have to be multiple people involved," Miller said.

At 6p.m. Monday evening, University President Steven Knapp issued an e-mail statement to the GW community.

"There is no place for expressions of hatred on our campus," the e-mail said. "We do not condone, and we will not tolerate, the dissemination of fliers or other documents that vilify any religious, ethnic, or racial group."

Knapp emphasized Iftar, an interfaith event later this week to celebrate Ramadan - a Muslim fast day. "This event speaks to our university's commitment to global cultural understanding and respect," Knapp said.

Tracy Schario, University spokesperson, said the administration was looking into the incident.

"The University is aware of these flyers," Schario said. "They have been taken down, and we are moving quickly to assess the situation."

Sophomore Tarek Al-Hariri, president of the Peace Forum student organization, said his group is holding a meeting to discuss the matter in Columbia Square at 8:45 p.m. Monday night.

(Read the Hatchet's coverage of the forum.)

He said the several groups attending would be the College Republicans, the College Democrats, Hillel and the Middle East Peace Group.

At about noon, YAF sent a news release stating they had no involvement with the posters.

"We neither endorse nor support any form of hate speech, rather we promote freedom and liberty," the release said.

Deena Elmaghrabi, treasurer of the Muslim Student Association, said she hopes student organizations on campus can work together to solve this issue.

"All I can say at the moment though is that we are dismayed by this widespread hate incident." Elmaghrabi said. "The MSA condemns all hate incidents and crimes no matter their basis."

-Andrew Nacin contributed to this report.

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