On Monday evening, Dean Groves sent an email out to the UVa community to alert students and faculty to a viral social media event, “Punish a Muslim Day.” It is unknown who contrived “Punish a Muslim Day” but officials have determined that the event originated in the UK.
Dean Groves reminded students that although no indications pointed to an immediate threat at the University of Virginia, everyone should continue to be vigilant.
“Although we are aware of no connection to a specific threat targeting members of the University community, we are informed that fliers supporting this virulent campaign of hate have been reported at other American colleges and universities,” he stated in the email.
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) released a statement on Facebook regarding the hateful movement.
“We, the Muslim Student Association at UVA, are disgusted with such rhetoric and wholeheartedly condemn any form of hate or violence against any person based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender,” the statement read. “Our university is a place in which students of all backgrounds are meant to thrive, and has no place for such bigotry.”
The MSA also expressed that they had reached out to local authorities to request an increase in security measures. Additionally, the group asked that professors accommodate students who may not attend class out of fear for their safety.
A letter describing “Punish a Muslim Day” laid out a point system that encouraged people to commit hate crimes against Muslims. These acts include verbally abusing a Muslim, pulling a hijab off of a Muslim woman’s head, throwing acid on a Muslim, and nuking Mecca.
Many people around the world engaged in a counter-initiative called “Love a Muslim Day,” in which non-Muslims wore traditional Muslim clothing to stand in solidarity with the targeted religious group.
Several members of the UVa community expressed their disgust with the event on social media. The MSA included a list of resources at the bottom of their statement encouraging students who feel distressed to reach out for support.