By Martin Weil and Elissa Silverman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Fliers that appeared on the George Washington University campus carrying an apparently anti-Islamic message were produced by students who were attempting to mock those they thought were trying to stir fear of Muslims, a campus newspaper was told.
The GW Hatchet, an independent campus paper, posted a story on its Web site late last night saying it had heard from those behind the fliers, who said they had been misunderstood. According to the Hatchet, an e-mail that it received from the students said the flier was not an attack on Islam but an effort "at exposing Islamophobic racism."
Jake Sherman, editor-in-chief of the Hatchet, said the e-mail came after the newspaper tried to find students possibly responsible for the fliers, which blanketed GW's Foggy Bottom campus early Monday and provoked a furor.
The fliers carried in large print the words "HATE MUSLIMS? SO DO WE!!!"
The fliers also carried text purportedly linking them to an "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" that is being hosted by conservatives this month.
Some said they thought the fliers might have been intended as satire. They spotted fine print at the bottom, which said the fliers were "Brought to you by Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness."
However, university officials joined many students in responding with dismay. "It's scary," one Muslim student said.
The message to the Hatchet said the conservatives' awareness week was "being imposed on us from outside forces."
The seven students who told the Hatchet that they made the flier said it was not intended to cause any real harm, according to last night's posted news story by Hatchet Metro news editor Eric Roper.
Sergio Gor, president of a group hosting the awareness week, said last night of the flier: "This wasn't satire. This was hatred."
Those named by the Hatchet as authors of the flier could not be reached last night.
In a letter addressed to the university community, posted online last night by the Hatchet, the seven students said: "It is to our great dismay that the student body and the media missed the clear, if subtle message of our flier."
A campus spokeswoman, Tracy Schario, said the matter remained under investigation.
Staff Writer Susan Kinzie contributed to this report.