Seven students signed confessions with the University Police Department Wednesday morning, admitting to their involvement in a controversial poster campaign that offended a slew of members of the GW community.
The students said they hung the fliers – which contained the text “Hate Muslims? So do we!!!” – to exemplify the racism of an upcoming conservative event called Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. The event’s organizers, the Young America’s Foundation, were falsely named as contacts on the poster.
The posters also identified features of a “typical Muslim,” including “lasers in eyes,” “venom from mouth,” and “peg-leg for smuggling heroin and children.”
QUICKTAKES: THE TIMELINE
- Monday: Posters hung, Peace Forum holds mtg.
- Tuesday: Univ. starts investigation, Hatchet obtains identities of the students responsible
- Wednesday: Students sign confession of responsibility for hanging posters
The posters were created by the Students for Conservativo Fascism-Awareness, GW students who are members of the GW Campus Anti-War Network.
Many people said they felt the actions were meant to offend Muslims, and a forum was held Monday night to discuss hate speech on campus.
Deena Elmaghrabi, treasurer of the Muslim Students Association, said her group found the posters racist and did not support Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.
“Regardless of their intention.it was still very hurtful and hateful,” said Elmaghrabi Monday night.
“When you use ‘hate’ in capital letters on your poster, that is very hateful to me.”
University President Steven Knapp declined comment on any University-sanctioned punishment Wednesday night, but acknowledged the message had resonance on campus.
“I understand that whatever their intent may have been they also need to appreciate that it caused pain to members of the Muslim community here and certainly went beyond the boundaries of the University as well,” Knapp said in an interview with The Hatchet.
The group remained anonymous until Tuesday night, when The Hatchet obtained information about the identity of one of the perpetrators. They later sent an e-mail admitting to the actions, and revealing all of their names.
On Wednesday morning, the seven students signed confessions with UPD stating “I hereby take responsibility as a signatory to the statement released by The Hatchet October 9, 2007,” several members of the group confirmed.
UPD told the perpetrators that investigations into their actions had been terminated, graduate student Adam Kokesh said Wednesday.
University spokesperson Tracy Schario said the investigation of the entire incident is still ongoing. She added she could not comment on individual cases.
The other students involved were freshmen Yong Kwon and Ned Goodwin; senior Brian Tierney; and graduate students Maxine Nwigwe, Lara Masri and Ammal Rammah.
Kokesh, an Iraq War veteran, gained celebrity over the past year because of his vocal opposition to the war.
“There’s a great tendency in academia to have a knee-jerk reaction to anything controversial,” Kokesh said.
He added, “Anyone who bothered to read the whole thing got that point (that the posters were satirical).”
Organizers said the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week – which begins Oct. 22 – will feature conservative speakers, films and discussion panels
Vice president of YAF Patrick Coyle said the posters were the “latest string of dirty tricks with those that disagree with our ideas.”
“If they wanted to protest they can protest, but I find it strange that they’re against these ideas even being discussed at (GW),” Coyle said.
Despite the protests of the seven students and others at GW, Knapp said he would not support canceling the week, as long as it does not violate University rules.
Knapp said, “I would never do anything to suggest any kind of censoring of free expression of ideas.”
Sam Salkin, Jake Sherman and Andrew Nacin contributed to this report.