Breaking NewsTuesday, Oct. 9 2:45 a.m.
See our previous article, from Monday afternoon, on this story here.
More than 100 people – including GW students, administrators and local media – converged on the Hippodrome at Marvin Center Monday night to express outrage over an anti-Muslim poster hung around campus early Monday morning.
The gathering, organized by GW Peace Forum, highlighted several posters that were anonymously placed around campus, slamming the Muslim faith. The poster falsely advertised “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.”
There is an event of the same name sponsored by the GW Young America’s Foundation later this month but leaders of that organization firmly deny hanging the posters.
“We’re all here, we’re not all the same and we need to understand,” said sophomore Tarek Al-Hariri, president of GW Peace Forum, during the discussion. “I think something this morning happened. It may or may not have been taken the way it was supposed to be (and) may not have been a mistake. Nevertheless, people were affected and people took offense.”
Many of the students in attendance at the event said they were personally hurt by the posters that were hung.
“This is the first time I felt attacked,” said Manalle Mahmoud, a junior who is of the Muslim faith.
Representatives from more than a dozen groups on campus and from Muslim, Catholic and Jewish faiths spoke in unison condemning the posters and the unidentified subjects who hung them.
“We wish to reaffirm our solidarity with all our brothers and sisters of all faith backgrounds and reiterate our commitment to greater understanding of all peoples, of all creeds and denominations,” said sophomore Brandon Hines, in a statement from the GW Catholic community.
Several students present at Monday night’s gathering attacked senior Sergio Gor, president of GW YAF, for today’s events.
“We are being targeted because we are conservative,” said Gor, who left the meeting before its conclusion. “No way in shape or in form do we support hate speech.”
Gor said GW YAF is hosting several events at the end of the month for “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.” The week will feature two Iranian women – who were persecuted in the Islamic republic – and conservative writer and activist David Horowitz.
Some individuals in attendance at Monday’s discussion said this situation is not as bad as it seems. Lara Nasri, a graduate student and a member of the Campus Anti-War Network, said the video listed on the poster, “The Power of Nightmares,” was a documentary questioning the West’s fear of terrorist networks.
“It was completely satirical and overblown,” Nasri said. “It was the antithesis of racism.”
Gor disagreed with Nasri.
“This is not satirical,” said Sergio Gor. “It is hatred.”
Kareem Shibib, a senior from Cornell University who came to gathering after hearing about the poster, said that the flyer is racist.
“I think this is a rather overt form of racism,” Shibib said. “What is important (is) to look further into this.”
The University Police Department, GW Housing Programs and the Student Activities Center are investigating the matter and would not comment on the current investigation.
University President Steven Knapp condemned the posters in a news release issued Monday evening.
“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 said in the release. “This flier does not represent, in any way, shape or form, the views of the administration of GW.”
Knapp said he plans to attend a GW community Iftar Wednesday night in support of the Muslim community and in celebration of the end of Ramadan. He had planned to attend before Monday’s events.
Student Association President Nicole Capp, who did not attend Monday night’s meeting, said that SA has taken action against the matter.
“I made sure the (SA office assistants) went around campus to take down every poster,” said Capp, a junior.
SA Executive Vice President Brand Kroeger, who also did not attend Monday night’s meeting, said GW administrators should take serious action against any students involved with creating and or hanging the posters.
Kroeger said, “I would support expulsion. These acts are completely heinous.”
Mike Phillips and Sam Salkin contributed to this report.