October 12, 2008
The 19-year-old sophomore said she was hit with a gun in a bathroom in the college’s science center Thursday night, authorities said. Anti-Muslim graffiti was written on the wall, authorities said, similar to a threat written on the same student’s locker the week before that said: “Die Muslims, Rid us of your filth.”
As officials at the private college affiliated with the United Church of Christ on Friday called the incident a hate crime, hundreds of students rallied to show solidarity with their Muslim peers, who are about 25 of the school’s 3,300 students.
Elmhurst police are investigating, but declined to comment. Friends said the student had hired a lawyer, who did not return calls for comment.
A college spokesman said authorities have not found any witnesses of the attacker, who was described by the woman as a 5-foot-8 male wearing a mask and gloves.
The woman’s father said Friday that she said the gunman asked her: ” ‘Now who is going to protect you?’ ” He said his daughter replied: ” ‘God will protect me. . . . You can kill me, but you cannot take my soul.’ “
Since then, “it’s all kind of spiraled out of control,” said Soofia Ahmed, president of the Muslim Students Association.
After students were outraged by the graffiti on the woman’s locker, they staged a second rally Thursday, and the woman read a poem she had written about the events. Afterward, she said she was attacked.
“This is a blow against our entire community,” Elmhurst College President Alan Ray told students at Friday’s rally.
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