CAIR-NY: MUSLIM ACTIVISTS DECRY DESECRATION OF QURAN AT PACE UNIVERSITY
Muslim activists called on Pace University on Thursday to crack down on hate crimes after a second copy of the Quran was found in a toilet at its campus.
"This incident meets the legal definition of a hate crime," said Aliya Latif, a member of the Association of Muslim American Lawyers. "Indeed, this is no different from placing a burning cross in front of a house or painting a swastika on a locker."
The discovery of the Islamic holy book in a toilet at Pace's lower Manhattan campus on Oct. 13 was the latest in a series of acts of vandalism tinged with racial or religious overtones at the school.
A copy of the Quran was found in a library toilet at Pace on Sept. 21, and in October someone scrawled racial slurs on a student's car at the Westchester County satellite campus and on a bathroom wall at the campus in lower Manhattan.
Omar Mohammedi, president of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, said Muslims "are concerned with the fact that it has been repeated, and we call on Pace University to take necessary actions to make sure that ... the perpetrator is arrested."
Faiza Ali, a Pace senior and a member of the Muslim Students Association, said the university did not initially take the incidents seriously enough, classifying the first desecration of the holy book as an act of vandalism and not as a hate crime.
University officials later reversed themselves and referred both Quran incidents to the New York Police Department's hate crimes unit, said Ali, who joined Mohammedi and Latif at a news conference. . .
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR's national office in Washington, D.C., said the organization receives frequent reports of Quran desecrations in the United States, especially postings on Internet sites, but seldom makes them public.
"It's our policy not to publicize these unless they extend to some kind of intimidation, because we feel that the people who do this are seeking publicity, and we have no desire to grant them what they seek," he said.
He said CAIR decided to speak out about the Pace incidents because Muslim students "are impacted by the creation of what could be viewed as a hostile campus environment."