SHAFAQNA – The Islamic prayer rooms at a prominent Australian university have been vandalized and flooded with racist notes accusing Muslims of being rapists and thieves.
At 10 on Monday morning, Muslim students entered their prayer room in Old Teachers’ College to find it had been ransacked, with a racially abusive letter left at the door.
The room had been trashed, with wardrobes and cupboards emptied and rubbish strewn on the floor Monday’s incident was the 5th break-in in three months, following four previous incidents between December 11 and February 1.It comes two weeks after Islamophobic graffiti was found in the Sydney University graffiti tunnel.
Honi understands campus security have been aware of the incidents since December, and Director of Student Support Services, Jordi Austin, was informed in January.
Undergraduate student Samiha Elkheir was the first to discover Monday’s break-in. “This happens so frequently that I check with campus security every day before I go in. I know it has been trashed multiple times before,” she said.
President of the Sydney University Muslim Society Nasreen Dean told Honi police from Newtown local area command attended the scene by midday.
The police informed students there was no sign of forced entry. Nothing has been reported stolen.
Campus security had earlier told Elkheir the door had not been closed on Friday evening, leaving it open all weekend. Security noticed the door was open at 6 a.m. Monday, by which time the room had already been ransacked.
Police are examining video footage and seized the racially abusive letter for fingerprint testing.
A spokesperson for NSW Police declined to comment on the break-in, but confirmed that a police report had been filed.
Students told Honi the break-ins occur more frequently over summer because Old Teachers’ College closes at 5pm, yet many students stay after hours because daily prayers do not finish until after sunset. It has become customary for campus security to leave the door unlocked.
“If nobody closes the door behind them”, said Elkheir, “there is a near one hundred percent chance it will be trashed”.
“Islamophobia is very real in Australia,” said Dean. “It’s childish but it doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously. Muslims on every university campus should have access to safe places.