Last week, in a university I get so proud to be part of; buildings were found sprayed with multiple Nazi swastikas, with one incident addressing how "Islam must die". Situated just outside of Birmingham's city centre, the University of Birmingham prides itself with its copious amount of internationally excellent research and resides grade listed buildings around the tallest free standing clock tower in the world. These events contrast the university's pride in supporting attacked and oppressed groups, with posters on events in Ferguson dotted around campus, the student newspaper, Redbrick, that perpetually calls out unjustness, and a vast amount of societies for social groups and minorities.
Islamophobia is a crime. Anti-Semitism is a crime. To the criminal(s) involved, you have not caused a divide, but a unity between communities. Your unjust hatred towards race does not and will never equate to the monstrosities that occurred under Nazi regime and to think makes you look so exceptionally stupid.
The events parallel recent attacks on Birmingham by Fox News, in which a terror "expert" expressed unjustly how "there are cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims simply do not go in." When in fact, only 21.8% of Birmingham's population is Muslim, almost half of what makes up Christian majorities. I'm pretty sure I recognise my own heritage and beliefs more than Steven Emerson does. Thanks anyway though.
Islamophobia is a dirty word creeping into the likes of households across the UK. I am, like the majority, at university to study and develop life skills before entering "the real world". If this is my exposure to what the real world looks like, I think I'm staying at university forever. Students should feel safe where they live and study, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality and age. Being a gay student, I know exactly how I would feel if I were to be persecuted in such a cowardly format. We are students, the next wave of adults. It is vital that we make sure we encapsulate ethnic and social minorities in order to prevent such events happening again. Please, stop.
It seems that after the tragedy of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the controversy behind freedom of speech has manipulated into a weapon in which some self-entitled idiots feel the need to attack minority groups for reasons unknown.
Getting home from university and hearing from one of my flatmates about the hate messages written in red pen on the back of toilet doors across campus is not the type of conversation you'd expect in 2015. Embellishing anti-Semitic and Islamophobic ideologies into such an establishment is far more dangerous to a community than any "totally Muslim" could ever be. Such events leave UoB with a bitter taste in its mouth, with the West Midlands police getting involved and an odd atmosphere around a campus that my Islamic flatmate is too scared to feel safe on.
From what I have seen in my first year so far, racism and attacks on social minorities are somewhat commonplace in Birmingham. The EDL march in the city centre late last year showed me how hateful some Pitbull-yielding, balaclava-owning messes of organisations can be.
Though it is important to see the perpetrators as extreme and an indefinite minority of an ignorant nature, it is more important to ensure that Islamic, Jewish and any other ethnic minority group of students at the University of Birmingham are living, learning and growing in a safe environment.
To whoever committed such ignorant and damaging activities, I am ashamed to share my university with you.