Hello folks, new blogger here. My name’s Hyder, class of 2012. I’m planning on majoring in bio and IMES, and I’m also interested in politics, activism, Islam in the modern world, South Asia, the list goes on.
I’m a member of the MSA. I first heard about this incident late last week, I think after Friday prayers. As I was sitting in the MSA lounge, talking to people after lunch, I couldn’t bring myself to feel terribly angry or hurt. Because when I had heard “vandalism,” I thought things had been broken, tables upturned, the room terribly defaced, blood on the walls, apocalyptic quotes, broken windows, the whole nine yards; instead we got damage to a wall, unplugged lamps, bent cooking utensils, and a stolen copy of the Qur’an. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that’s okay either, that it should be fine for people to walk into a place for Muslim gathering and worship and do whatever childish immature things strike their fancy. And I’m really glad to see the kind of reaction people have had, because I’ve seen nothing but support for the Muslims on campus and outrage that something like this could happen at Brandeis.
But I don’t think we can label this a hate crime quite yet. As far as I know, no one knows who did this, or why, or when, or what happened afterwards. Sahar put it well, saying “stealing (and presumably desecrating) a Koran is a big deal” – because it is – except I’m not sure we can presume desecration right off the bat. That copy has yet to be found, and may well be returned – who knows? This isn’t like finding a noose hanging in a library, this is more like teenagers TPing a house ’cause they’re bored and want to raise a ruckus.
In the Justice article, Neda was quoted as saying “”No matter what the suspected motivations are, I believe this vandalism should be treated like a hate crime by the Brandeis community and Police department.” I completely disagree. I think this should be treated as immature, juvenile, disrespectful, outrageous…the list goes on, because this incident is all those things (and more) to very many people aside from the Muslims on campus. And if it ends up being something malicious and intolerant and hurtful, I’ll be the first to shout for swift justice and strong action. But before we can assume “hatred” of the Muslim presence at Brandeis, we should have clear proof that it exists; labeling it a “hate crime” when we have so little information is jumping to a conclusion that may not be useful or true, but may end up unnecessarily staining the Brandeis campus and community.
9 responses to “Hate Crime for Sure?”
[…] thought one of the braver comments at the outset of this debate came on the Innermostparts blog. by a member of the Muslim Students’ Association. Compared to some other comments, this one […]
“The Torah and the Quran are essentially the same book. They are equally valuable in each of their religions.”
Well, they’re definitely not “essentially the same book.” While the texts themselves hold equal importance to their respective religions, I think Dani B. was referring to general worth of the objects themselves.
A Torah Scroll at its cheapest will cost about $20,000, while I can purchase a Koran on Amazon for under $10. Though I have no doubts that the the Imam’s personal Koran was worth far more – both financially and emotionally.
My opinion in short: Hate crime until proven otherwise – not as bad as stealing a Torah Scroll, but comparable to breaking into a synagogue, desecrating the walls and stealing a Chumash (which would also be a hate crime).
The issue at hand here, however, is not the “value” of what is destroyed/stolen. The issue is that there are people on this campus (students or not) who are sick and bigoted enough to actually do something like this.
Getting into a tussle over how much was actually vandalized seems to pretty meaningless. Sort of like apologizing for sexual assault because it was “only a little bit,” or something along those lines.
The end of the story for me is that someone broke into the MSA, caused some damage, stole a holy book – which means that at least some people on this campus think that’s somehow ok/funny. If they think that’s ok, god knows what else they think is acceptable.
Dani. You are highly uninformed!
The Torah and the Quran are essentially the same book. They are equally valuable in each of their religions.
That and I agree tha sometimes people can use hyperbole (not that this is one of those cases) but you would be an idiot not to listen.
Like they say take what someone says with a grain of salt…you just drank the ocean…
Interesting. Nice to see one’s background and perspective don’t always have to color one’s view on something.
Adam thanks for your response. I know it doesn’t have to be a one-to-one comparison and I do get his point. I just think that hyperbole waters down discourse and makes people like Sahar who use it frequently more easy to dismiss.
Dani — The sense I get was that the stolen Quran was particularly important. The Justice article characterizes it as “valuable”, and it was the Imam’s personal copy. However, I think that it doesn’t have to be an exact one-to-one comparison to appreciate the point Sahar is trying to make.
The methodical nature of the invasion actually makes it seen more likely that this was specifically targeted at Muslims rather than a random act of vandalism. I’d expect a group of drunken assholes to be randomly and wantonly destructive and to base their thefts on what would be valuable to them (computers, other electronics). Instead, the intruders seem like they were specifically targeting what Muslims consider valuable — the Quran and whatever they assumed would be behind a sealed door.
I agree that we can’t absolutely say what the motives were at this point, but my best judgment leads me to believe that the evidence overwhelmingly points to specific anti-Muslim sentiments as the cause of the invasion.
Thanks Hyder for your measured, let’s not jump to conclusions response. It shows a great deal of maturity to write something like this when I’m sure emotions are running high around campus. I hope that the incident was as innocuous as you describe but if it’s not I hope that it gets handled appropriately.
As for Sahar’s comment I’m not sure how you draw the comparison to stealing a torah scroll. Such items are rare and one of a kind in the way that each is handmade. It would be more akin to someone stealing a chumash (the torah in print bound form) or a bible.
I’m not saying that there is hatred of the muslim presence at Brandeis. Again, generalizing one person’s dumbass move with the entire community is just wrong.
Still, you can be “guys chill” because you’re in the MSA. Not having that social context, we are trying to show our support in the ways we can. But also I stand by my case that if someone stole a Torah from Berlin chapel *heads would roll*. How is this not a similar situation?