Recent anti-Muslim vandalism at UC Riverside is part of "symbolic and cultural violence" encouraged by some presidential candidates, a UCR professor said during Monday's campus forum on Islamophobia.
"Racism and Islamophobia go hand in hand," said Dylan Rodríguez, chairman of the Ethnic Studies Department. "This is why it's crucial to understand these forms of symbolic and cultural violence as the logical product of a specific kind of political climate."
He said the Islamophobic, racist, and misogynist rhetoric circulating among some major U.S. presidential candidates, "encourages and enables these reprehensible forms of harassment and intimidation."
About 100 people attended the panel discussion, dubbed, "Countering Islamophobia: Anti-racist responses to violence on campus."
Some students had to stand or sit on the floor after seats filled up. Mariam Beevi Lam, who was recently named as UC Riverside's associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, was among those in attendance.
Speakers included Amal Ali, an undergraduate student majoring in ethnic studies; Marlen Rios-Hernandez, a third-year doctoral student in ethnic studies; Sherine Hafez, associate professor in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies; Loubna Qutami, a doctoral candidate in ethnic studies; and Jeff Sacks, professor of comparative literature.
Panelists talked about the roots of Islamophobia, anti-Muslim harassment on campus, and addressed the next steps to take toward tackling anti-Palestinian hate.
Rodríguez began Monday's discussion by recapping the vandalism that targeted the Department of Ethnic Studies and graduate student offices. James Grant, assistant vice chancellor of strategic communications, said Monday that the investigation into the vandalism is ongoing.
The vandalism, which appears to have occurred during the spring break holiday, was anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian, Rodríguez said. Women of color were targeted, he added.
Biographies and photos of at least four female graduate students were either stolen or defaced.
A bookcase and graduate student mailboxes were also tampered with or rummaged through. And, materials related to Palestine, including an image of the Palestinian flag, were torn from the wall.
One faculty member's office in the Interdisciplinary building also was broken into and vandalized, he said.
And, a pornographic picture cut out of a magazine was placed atop a book about Islam.
The panel was the latest in a series of on-campus discussions about Islamophobia.