Skip to content

Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers vandalized on Eid, hate crime investigation ensues

The attack on the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers is the result of the lack of protection for Muslim students. – Photo by Evan Leong

In the early hours of Eid, a celebration that commemorates the end of the month-long celebration of Ramadan, the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers (CILRU) on the College Avenue campus was subject to an act of bias.

According to a University-wide email from the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), the perpetrators, whose descriptions are currently limited, forced their way into the empty building and damaged several valuable items.

A post from the CILRU with images of the damage explains that items that were vandalized ranged from religious and cultural pieces, such as art pieces with verses from the Quran and a strung Palestinian flag, to equipment and structural elements, such as windows, TVs and printers.

"This reprehensible act, occurring on our sacred day, is undoubtedly fueled by Islamophobia is clearly a hate crime targeting our Muslim population at Rutgers," the caption on the post read.

The incident has drawn the attention of various on and off-campus cultural, religious and administrative groups, including Rutgers Hillel, the Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers—New Brunswick (SJP), University President Jonathan Holloway, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) and New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

Statements from Rutgers Hillel and Holloway both reference the notion that Rutgers is a campus that should be free from hate, violence and intolerance.

Holloway's statement also acknowledged the occurrence of the incident on Eid and links Islamophobia, among other acts of discrimination, to ignorance. His statement comes less than a week after a town hall in which he was invited to speak concluded early, after attendees called for the University's divestment, as The Daily Targum previously reported.

Both Holloway and Murphy condemned the damaging acts in their statements, using language such as "disgusted," "despicable" and "horrifying."

The statement from Platkin was comparably comprehensive, detailing how his office would be working with law enforcement and administrative leaders on campus to respond to the situation and hold perpetrators accountable. Platkin and his office are committed to protecting Muslim community members across the state, according to the statement.

His statement also acknowledged the importance of the CILRU to Rutgers' Muslim community. This sentiment was further echoed in a statement from SJP, who called the act a danger to Muslim and Arab students on campus.

"Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism and all types of oppression are interconnected," SJP's statement read. "We are heartbroken that this happened in a place that holds so much meaning for our community and has been such a strong support, and a space of comfort in our efforts for justice and liberation."

Though the damage was done to the space during a prolific religious landmark, both the CILRU and SJP's statements contained notes of perseverance in celebrating the holiday. Both groups said while property can be damaged, the strength of their community cannot.

"This lesson is one we draw from our fellow brothers and sisters in Palestine, whose strength and resilience inspire us," SJP's statement read. "Let us be grateful that we are not cut from the same cloth as those who seek to oppress. This should only strengthen our resolve and bring us closer as a community. Eid Mubarak to all, with love and solidarity."

A later email from Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Francine Conway more comprehensively detailed similar sentiments shared by the other groups. In her statement, Conway condemned the act, especially given that it took place on a campus with one of the highest populations of Muslim, Arab and Palestinian students in the nation. She called on the University community to reaffirm its commitment to inclusion and compassion for one another.

Further, Conway referred to the act as cowardly and disturbing, which will be prosecuted as a hate crime, according to the email. As the University moves forward, she said they will continue to update the public on any developments and commit to repairing the CILRU. Her statement included a call for the community to unite and heal together.

"I unequivocally condemn this act of violence against the Rutgers—New Brunswick Muslim community and the desecration of a religious and community space," her statement read. "I invite everyone in our community to work together, stand together and support all individuals and groups affected by this act of cowardice."

Anyone with further information about the situation is encouraged to contact RUPD's Detective Bureau.

Related Articles

Join our newsletterSubscribe