Vandalism and Harassment in Mosaic Center


A picture of the vandalized map

Man verbally harasses students in Mosaic center and defaces map

Max Brown, Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday a man entered the Mosaic center on the Coon Rapids campus and began verbally harassing students there while defacing a world map with politically-charged vandalism. The offender was not a registered student, staff member or faculty at Anoka-Ramsey.

Zamzam Mohamed, a student in the Mosaic Center at the time of the incident, said that the man entered the room and approached the map with confidence and familiarity with the Mosaic center’s layout, despite not being a student.

“It was like he knew where he was…he walked straight to the back, cursing ‘f— Palestine, it will always be Israel’ and he crossed off Palestine on the map,” Mohamed said.

The division between Palestinian and Israeli land has been a controversial international issue for decades, and one without a clear international consensus. The creation of the original Israeli state in 1947 was an effort to offer reparations to the Jewish people following WWII and the Holocaust. The original model was a two-state solution that split Palestine, a British protectorate at the time, into a Palestinian state and Israeli state. During various conflicts over the past 50 years, Israel has militarily occupied several territories claimed by Palestine, including Gaza. The vandalism has been interpreted as a show of rejecting statehood.

After the incident, Mohamed and a group of other students confronted the man, who was sitting outside in the student center. The man offered to pay for the vandalism while repeating the phrase “it’s America” without explaining what he meant. He continued to denounce Palestine, saying they are “killing [his] people.”

Eyewitnesses say that the man came to the Mosaic Center from the “quiet room”, where his erratic behavior was already making students uncomfortable. Student Menna Rageh encountered the man on her way into the room and considered his behavior unusual and disquieting.

“He was standing outside with a campus map in his hand and he was writing things down and crossing things out on his map, like, abruptly.”

The man entered the room while Rageh was praying and continued acting erratically.

“He walked into the quiet room…and stood and stared facing at the wall for about a minute and 50 seconds…it was really uncomfortable and suspicious…all the sudden he just closed his bag, packed his stuff up and left,” Rageh said.

In response to the incident, an event was held in the Mosaic center the following day.

“Me and a few other girls held an event in the Mosaic…a lot of faculty members were there, and we were making ribbons with the colors of the flag of Palestine just to show solidarity…as a group we talked about it, President Kent [Hanson] was there…we discussed what had happened, they were sharing what was going to be done…pretty much reassuring us that we are welcome at this school,” Mohamed said.

Students gather in the Mosaic Center as a show of solidarity after the incident

Rageh and Mohamed reported the incident, at which point campus security escorted the man off campus. Mohamed felt that the response wasn’t enough.

“We just felt like it wasn’t reassuring enough to know that we were going to be safe and comfortable in this school…that this man is just going to walk away with nothing happening,” Mohamed said.

This event comes in light of student concerns over the so-called “Punish a Muslim Day”. In early March, fliers were anonymously delivered to homes and businesses in several English cities declaring April 3rd “Punish a Muslim Day”.

The fliers described Muslims as “those who would like nothing more than to do us harm and turn our democracies into Sharia led police states”, and offered point values for various offenses against Muslims, including verbal abuse, physical assault, removing a Muslim woman’s hijab, and burning a Mosque. Anoka Ramsey students are concerned that the events in England may inspire violence in the US.

One of the flyers delivered in England (credit American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

The Campus Eye will continue to report on this developing story.