Univ. of Minnesota Muslim group's sign tagged with ISIS graffiti

Vandals spray-painted 'ISIS' on the Muslim Student Association’s sign on the University of Minnesota campus. Photo provided by CAIR-MN.

The discovery of anti-Muslim graffiti on the University of Minnesota campus early Thursday morning has the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for a hate crime investigation. CAIR-MN says that vandals spray-painted “ISIS” on the Muslim Student Association’s sign on the Washington Avenue Bridge.

“University administrators and state religious and political leaders must speak out forcefully against the rising anti-Muslim hate in our society that results in such disturbing incidents,” said a statement from CAIR-MN executive director Jaylani Hussein. “We urge campus police and other relevant law enforcement agencies to investigate this incident as a hate crime.”

Hussein also voiced concern over recent incidents across the country targeting Muslims and Islamic institutions, including the violent attack of a Muslim man at a San Diego restaurant, the vandalism of a Florida mosque, and plots to attack mosques in Los Angeles and Kansas. Hussein cited the “Islamophobic rhetoric in the presidential election campaign,” particularly from Donald Trump, as a possible contributing factor to these types of incidents.

Closer to the Twin Cities, police in Menomonie, Wisconsin are investigating the death of University of Wisconsin-Stout student Hussain Alnahdi, who passed away after an assault in the downtown area. A reward fund for information leading to an arrest and conviction reached $20,000 by Wednesday. Alnahdi was a 24-year-old junior from Saudi Arabia studying business administration. Police say there is no direct evidence his attack is a hate crime, but they’re not ruling it out.

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Statement from University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler

In the past 48 hours, the Twin Cities campus community has experienced two hate-based incidents that have caused great concern and fear among members of our community, especially those who have been targeted. A statement from Danita Brown Young provides details about the first incident. This morning, we also learned that the Muslim Students Association's panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge was defaced with the word "ISIS."

We condemn these incidents. They are abhorrent actions that will not be tolerated on our campus. The University of Minnesota must be a safe and welcoming campus for all students, including, of course, members of our Muslim community. Such hateful speech runs counter to the values of our institution, which must include a climate that encourages the thoughtful and respectful exchange of ideas. We can disagree on issues, but cannot accept targeted hate.

The Office for Student Affairs and the University's police department met last night with students affected by yesterday's incident and continue to work closely with students and others to address both incidents. At the request of the Muslim Students Association, the defaced panel was painted over this morning. We are also working closely with student groups most directly affected and student government on next steps.

When our students are targeted and made to feel fearful, we as a community suffer. Repugnant actions like these must strengthen our resolve to ensure our campus is safe, welcoming, and respectful for all. We all must speak out against hate when we see it.

If you are feeling vulnerable or in need of support, please seek out safe and healing spaces-with friends, colleagues, student cultural centers, or affinity groups for faculty and staff. You may also access mental health resources, or engage with other helpful resources we have on our campus. A healing and processing space will be available tomorrow afternoon at the Al-Madinah Cultural Center in Coffman Union. Also, International Student and Scholar Services is holding space for international students to gather from 11:00 a.m. - Noon on Friday, November 4, and 10:00 a.m. - Noon on Monday, November 7, in 110 Heller Hall.


Eric W. Kaler, President
Karen Hanson, Executive Vice President and Provost
Katrice Albert, Vice President for Equity and Diversity
Danita Brown Young, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students