Police: Islamic Center at Rutgers New Brunswick campus vandalized as Muslim community celebrates Eid

Chaplain Kaiser Aslam, who leads the Center for Islamic Life, says it was a clear act of bigotry.

Chris Keating

Apr 10, 2024, 4:47 PM

Updated 49 days ago

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The Islamic Center on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University was broken into and vandalized on Wednesday around 4 a.m., according to officials. The center is located along College Avenue.
Chaplain Kaiser Aslam, who leads the Center for Islamic Life, says it was a clear act of bigotry. He says the timing is no coincidence, as Muslims are celebrating the end of Ramadan.
“I can’t imagine that this wasn’t timed to be on the day of Eid or the day of celebration,” Aslam says.
He described the damage saying, “In the center itself, we have artwork that praises God, those were the ones that were taken down and smeared everywhere. The TV was broken, the printers were broken.”
A Palestinian flag was stolen.
Chaplain Aslam says someone broke in through the rear door of the building. Rutgers University police were seen at the building collecting evidence and surveillance video from the surrounding area on Wednesday.
“This despicable act, committed during Eid, cannot stand. Acts of violence and bias have no place at Rutgers. We must be better than this. This act is an affront to our values as a community,” University President Jonathan Holloway wrote in a statement.
New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin also took note of the break-in and the timing stating, “We have been in direct contact with Muslim leaders across the state this morning to ensure that they know they have our full and unwavering support during this difficult time.” Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war in October, Muslim and Jewish students alike admit tensions have been high on campus.
Shayna Solkowitz is a Jewish student who can sympathize with those who suffered the break-in. She says she knows of Jewish students who have been targeted for acts of antisemitism.
“It’s scary because we have seen things like this across the country in Jewish communities,” Solkowitz says. “This is their home the same way that our synagogue is our home. I would never wish this on anybody.”
Recently there has been a push by some students for Rutgers to disinvest from companies with Israeli ties and to put an end to the university’s relationship with Tel Aviv University. But so far, the university president has not entertained that suggestion.
Aslam says the center will clean up and move forward. But he refused to let the crime keep him from his family and celebrating Eid.
“They can destroy our building, they can trash whatever they want to, they’re not going to hurt our will. If anything, it’s going to want to build back in a better way than it was because God is greater than any of that hate,” Aslam says.
Gov. Phil Murphy is also aware of the situation and says the state is working with Rutgers and law enforcement officials to ensure Muslim students’ safety.
“Islamophobia has NO place in New Jersey,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.


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