Muslim prayer room found vandalized Monday morning

A campus-wide email regarding the incident was sent Tuesday afternoon. Photo courtesy of Flyer News.

Kaitlin Lewis | Online Editor-in-Chief

The Muslim Prayer room, located in the Rike Center, was found “in disarray” Monday morning according to a campus-wide email sent Tuesday from University of Dayton President Eric Spina and Vice President for Mission and Rector Rev. James Fitz.

In the email, Fitz and Spina said damages to the room include damage to the door vent and trim, disturbing the prayer rugs and finding all copies of the Quran taken off of bookshelves and left on the floor.

UD Muslim Student Association President Huthayfa Usman said he and a fellow MSA member discovered the damages around 11 a.m. Monday. Usman said their first response was to call Campus Ministry, and then reported the incident to UD Public Safety.

“No one had reported it yet at that point,” Usman said.

Usman said that Public Safety responded quickly to the incident, and sent an officer who was familiar with the prayer room to collect their report. Campus Ministry representatives also sat with Usman and the other student while they talked with Public Safety.

Both Public Safety and the Equity Compliance office are conducting investigations into the incident. UD does not know as of now how the damages occurred, according to the email.

“These actions do not represent our Catholic, Marianist values,” read the email from Fitz and Spina. “The University is a faith-based community that welcomes all.”

On Monday, Usman, in collaboration with the incoming MSA President Ikram Hennaoui, released a statement on the organization’s Instagram page. In the post, both Usman and Hennaoui ask that students respect UD’s process in responding to the incident, and said they “know that this event will be treated seriously.”

Usman said in the response to the incident, MSA is offering a chance for UD community members to stop by the prayer room from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to meet with MSA members and learn how they can support Muslim students who were affected by the incident. The Muslim Prayer room is located in room 207 in the Rike Center.

MSA is also inviting all faculty, staff and students to join a prayer service in the Muslim Prayer Room Friday, Sept. 17 from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Usman said that Friday prayer services are always open to the campus community.

“We were shocked that this happened,” Hennaoui said. “But we all have united together.”

In August, the FBI reported that the number of hate crimes in the United States rose to the highest level it has in 12 years during 2020. Last fall, Flyer News reported that at least three hateful messages had been found on campus within the first month of school. At that time, UD students responded by writing messages of love on side-walks in the student neighborhood.

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Note: When this article was first published on Tuesday, Sept. 15, Flyer News had reported that the Muslim Student Association’s event was on Wednesday evening. That has since been corrected in the current version of this article.

Flyer News: Univ. of Dayton's Student Newspaper