UPDATE 27/01/2015: A further incident of anti-Muslim graffiti has been uncovered at the University of Birmingham, with a message reading “Kill Islam before it kills you” discovered in the ladies toilets of the Guild of Students.
That a second incident has followed the first so quickly is deeply concerning, and the university authorities must act to ensure the perpetrators are caught and dealt with.
It is also important that this should not be seen as a freedom of speech issue – there can be no place on our campuses for anti-Muslim bigotry.
A number of students have launched a petition calling on the university to respond to the demonstration against the graffiti is due to take place on campus today.
Tell Mama, which monitors incidents of anti-Muslim bigotry, has reported today that anti-Islamic comments have been written on the wall of an accommodation hall at the University of Birmingham.
A message reading “Islam must die” was painted onto the wall alongside a swastika.
This follows an incident at London South Bank University (LSBU) earlier this month, where anti-Muslim comments were posted on the Facebook page of the university Islamic Society.
While Tell Mama has suggested “the individual was trying to bypass hate crime laws” by writing Islam instead of Muslims, the message may still have breached Section 5 of the Public Order Act.
Incidents of anti-Muslim bigotry such as this remain relatively rare on UK campuses, but have become more common in the past year.
Alongside the LSBU example mentioned above, in March 2014 the Muslim Prayer Room sign at King’s College London (KCL) was attacked with a knife, with one student saying it had left her “genuinely scared”.
Meanwhile, a spike in anti-Muslim attacks reported across France in the wake of recent terrorist attacks will likely have left many Muslims in the UK worried.
The targeting of facilities used by Muslim students is an attack on that community which will leave many feeling unsafe and can only damage campus cohesion.
As such, it is vital that the University of Birmingham and West Midlands Police take this incident seriously and deal with it as swiftly as possible.
Here at Student Rights we would also urge anyone who spots abuse such as this to alert their university as soon as possible.