Religion

Bin Laden Halloween Costume Causes Controversy at Washington University

| by Courtney Nunes

Students from a Washington University fraternity are facing controversy after they dressed as “Seal Team 6” soldiers and Osama bin Laden for Halloween.

According to the University Herald, a photo of the group costume (pictured) circulated on Facebook and went viral this week.

The photo shows a student holding an American flag, while three students wearing camouflage pants point toy guns at a student wearing a fake beard and a turban.

Many people took offense to this photo, particularly those of the Muslim community.

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“Some of the commentary is very hostile and it speaks to the fact this isn’t an isolated incident,” Ayah Abo-Basha, a member of the Muslim Students Association, told local Fox affiliate KTVI.

One student in particular voiced her outrage in a seven-paragraph Facebook post. According to senior student Mahroh Jahangiri, the photo symbolizes “a broader, more aggressive (and apparently violent) Islamophobia rampant here at WashU and in the United States.”

“This photo and its ‘Amurrica’ caption imply that ‘Amurrica’ is white (male) Americans; people with beards, or of darker color, or implicitly Muslims, are not,” Jahangiri wrote. “This photo implies that not only are Muslims not American, their lives are expendable.”

According to Washington University’s independent newspaper Student Life, university administrators scheduled an emergency meeting for 8 a.m. on Thursday, in which they planed to discuss the controversial Facebook response. That afternoon, the university’s Office of Public Affairs emailed a statement to all staff and students.

An excerpt from the statement read:

Whatever the intention, the image has offended and hurt members of our community. The image also is entirely inconsistent with who we are as an institution, our values and the way in which we engage in the world around us. We are deeply disappointed and saddened that this has occurred. We must expect better of ourselves and of each other.

University officials are reportedly “looking into” events leading up to the Facebook post. According to CBS Local, they have declined to state whether or not disciplinary actions will be taken.

“Every one of our students must feel safe and valued, and must be able to pursue their studies. This is the only way we will create the inclusive community we aim to be,” university officials told CBS Local.

Sources: University HeraldFacebookKTVIStudent LifeCBS Local