At the U, some push hate crime probe after Muslim student group sign vandalized

Updated: 3:10 p.m. | Posted: 1:37 p.m.

Offensive graffiti painted on a sign for the University of Minnesota's Muslim Student Association has some people calling for a hate crime investigation.

The word "ISIS" was spray painted on a sign for the Muslim Students Association on the Washington Avenue Bridge on the U of M campus.

A picture of the graffiti circulated on social media, followed by another that showed the sign had been fully painted over.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for a hate crime investigation into the graffiti.

"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," CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said in a statement. "We urge campus police and other relevant law enforcement agencies to investigate this incident as a hate crime."

The graffiti comes a day after posters were put up on campus accusing the student group Students for Justice in Palestine of being a front for Hamas and an anti-Semitic terrorist organization.

University President Eric Kaler and other administrators sent out a campus note Thursday afternoon condemning the graffiti and the posters put up around campus.

"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," the emails said. "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 note said the Office of Student Affairs and the University Police Department met with students affected by the poster incident, and said they painted over the sign Thursday morning at the request of the Muslim Students Association.

"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," the email said.

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