Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University vandalized during Eid al-Fitr

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, April 11, 2024
Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University vandalized during Eid
CeFaan Kim has the latest reaction from students following the incident.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (WABC) -- The Rutgers University Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism at the school's Islamic center during one of the religion's most holy periods of the year.

The break-in was discovered at the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University on College Ave early Wednesday morning.

Authorities say vandals broke into the building overnight and damaged windows, electronics and artwork.

"It's obviously really targeted because like no other break-ins or anything like that," one student told Eyewitness News. ""Regardless of your beliefs or whatever I don't think anybody should be vandalizing anybody's property."

The attack comes as Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and is considered one of the holiest periods of the year.

According to the Rutgers Police Department, a suspect or suspects forced their way into the building and began to damage several valuable items.

Fortunately, no injuries were reported as the building was empty at the time of the incident.

"It looked like someone just went through and tried to destroy as much as they could," CILRU Chaplain Aslam Kaiser.

The Center for Islamic Life said in a statement on its Facebook page that the incident was "undoubtedly fueled by Islamophobia" and is "clearly a hate crime."

"Today, we witnessed art pieces with Quranic verses, shattered windows, vandalized TVs, broken printers, smashed art work and the destruction of our Palestinian flag," the statement read. "Our building can be smashed but our wills cannot."

Rutgers released a statement that said its police department is investigating the incident as a burglary, criminal mischief and bias crime and is working together with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

"At Rutgers, hatred and bigotry have no place, nor should they have a place anywhere in the world," the statement said in part. "All forms of discrimination are never acceptable. The university strongly condemns acts of vandalism, intolerance, and xenophobia, such as those demonstrated in the incident at the Center for Islamic Life."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy released a statement calling for safety for the university's Muslim students.

"Disgusted to learn that the Center for Islamic Life at @RutgersU was vandalized during Eid," the governor said. "There is a criminal investigation underway and we are working with Rutgers and law enforcement to ensure the safety of our Muslim students. Islamophobia has NO place in New Jersey."

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said Eid this year is toned down in light of the conflict in the Middle East and celebrations are focused on the children.

The Rutgers University Police Department is calling on the public to come forward with any information.

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