Last Tuesday, the Providence Police Department received a call threatening to bomb the University’s Muslim Student Center, inciting fear and forcing students in the center to relocate and rearrange scheduled prayers. The threat came during Ramadan, a sacred month in Islam and a time when Muslim students, faculty and staff come together to celebrate and share suhoor and iftar.
We stand in solidarity with Muslim students, staff and community members at Brown and call on everyone to combat acts of Islamophobia on College Hill.
Although the Department of Public Safety and PPD ultimately determined that there was “no credible threat” to the center connected to the call, this act represents the kind of hatred we must continually guard against in order to ensure acceptance, comfort and safety for all religious identities on campus.
In response to Tuesday’s incident, the Brown Muslim Students Association canceled suhoor as well as nightly prayers. We should not forget how threats, even empty or not “credible” ones, leave lasting effects on the communities they target.
We also cannot view this incident as divorced from a national culture that has proven increasingly hostile to Muslim communities. The past decade has seen a series of attempted immigration restrictions referred to as a “Muslim Ban,” Islamophobic jokes made by members of Congress and a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments across the country. The American Civil Liberties Union’s map of anti-mosque activity details all too many examples of the kinds of violent destruction, threatening notes, hateful phone calls and legal challenges leveled against mosques and other Muslim spaces across the nation — including here in Rhode Island.
These trends are particularly alarming on college campuses, where religion-based hate crimes nearly doubled between 2009 and 2017. Calling in threats to centers of worship is a prime example of such a crime. This common intimidation tactic is meant to cause students and community members to fear for their safety in the spaces where they should feel the most at home in their religious and cultural identities. Hate has the ability to linger, to worm into dark spaces and live beyond the moment of a single act. It is our responsibility, then, to name it for what it is, to clear it from our home and school and to affirm support for Muslim students on campus.
Islamophobia does not and never will belong at Brown.
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board and aim to contribute informed opinions to campus debates while remaining mindful of the group’s past stances. The editorial page board and its views are separate from The Herald’s newsroom and the 133rd Editorial Board, which leads the paper. This editorial was written by the editorial page board’s editor Kate Waisel ’24 and members Irene Chou ’23, Yasmeen Gaber ’23, Tom Li ’26, Jackson McGough ’23, Alissa Simon ’25 and Yael Wellisch ’26.