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Hidden with code "Submitted as Feature"
News :: Human Rights : Race
Hate Crime Alleged on Tufts Campus
03 May 2005
Modified: 08:11:14 PM
Riyadh Mohammed, 20, an Economics Major in his Junior year at Tufts University, alleges that he was attacked by three fraternity brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon in front of their frat house early Saturday morning. He claims he was beaten unconscious, and subjected to a chain of racist epithets. Police confirm that he was severely beaten.

Never one to hold back his opinions, president of the Arab Students Association at the school, and one who friends say, “puts the fact that he is an Arab out there.” Mohammed is proud of who he is.

According to Mohammed, he and his girlfriend were walking home from a party at about 2am Saturday morning. They passed in front of 114 Curtis, the Sigma Phi Epsilon house, and to his girlfriend, Riyadh commented, “Sig Ep f---ing sucks.”

Whether intended or not, the hostile comment was overheard. Insults were exchanged and a short, slight, scuffle ensued.
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“No one likes Indians anyway,” said Sig Ep alum Nishant Mektha- according to Mohammed.

“I’m not Indian, I’m an Arab.” He corrected.

“Even worse, you’re a terrorist.”

Police broke up the scuffle and Riyadh says he then dropped his girlfriend off at her home. After saying goodbye he says he immediately returned to Sig Ep to “explain the difference between an Arab and a terrorist.”

He claims he was calm and harbored no intention of fighting.

His decision to go back to the house may seem to some an aggressive move but racial tensions are high for some Arab students on campus. One young man who wished to remain anonymous- in order to “protect his reputation” -said that he felt “more welcome as an American in the Middle East than he does as an Arab in America.”

Mohammed is also President of an association whose role is to raise Arab awareness on campus by bringing speakers and movies, holding discussions, and building coalitions with other marginalized groups. It is part of his personal mission on campus to educate about his heritage, and he has spent most of his free time on it.

One reason for the growing tension cited by other members of the Arab Students Association, is a publication called the “Primary Source,” a well-known right-wing student newspaper that is distributed around campus and online.

To cite one example, an article that ran in the April 17th issue titled, “Tear down the Madrassa,” attacks Islam as the source of all evil in the Middle East.

“The fruits of Islam in today’s world are overwhelmingly negative. It has become a political goblin, and such a goblin cannot be reconciled with liberal values,” it reads. In another passage, the authors Patrick Randall and Jordan Greene say, “the Middle East is a bed of robbers.”

The Primary Source does not represent all students of course, but is well recognized as spreading anti-Muslim sentiments. I an article printed in October 2004’s Tufts Observer, Muslim Danyal Najmi writes: “Though it may enrage the Primary Source, it has been a great joy for me to discover the broadmindedness that I encounter in the many religious groups on campus.”

When Riyadh Mohammed returned to the Sig Ep frat house to talk to Nishant Mektha about the difference between an Arab and a Terrorist, the exchange began as a conversation. At one point in the verbal debate Mohammed asked, “What if I was Iraqi?” At that point, according to Mohammed’s account, two other individuals attacked him from the side.

They all three beat him until he was unconscious, calling him an Iraqi, a Sadaam supporter, and a terrorist. Then, according to some accounts that Mohammed says others have told him around campus, they kicked him in the head while he was down. Fearing the consequences of their attack, they dragged him inside and gave him a glass of water, begging him not to call the police.

The Tufts police department responded to Riyadh’s call at 2:49 AM. Upon seeing his condition they summoned their medical personnel, who in turn recommended that he attend to his wounds at a hospital immediately. At that time he refused, but the next morning he was taken to the New England Medical Center by his parents who drove up from Tufts. He was given a CAT scan and chest cavity X-ray by staff, and diagnosed with a serious concussion.

Mohammed picked Mektha out of a police line up using student ID’s at the scene of the crime. A second person, William Toner, is being interviewed by police as a “lead,” along with an undisclosed number of others.

One Sigma Phi Epsilon Member who was there when Mohammed was inside the house refused to comment for this article, Dean Reitman who is working with police and Mohammed on the case and Pat Willis, local President of Sig Ep house were both unavailable at the time of writing. Tufts police say their investigation is ongoing and they are interviewing a number of witnesses from the scene of the crime.

Copyright by the author. All rights reserved.