A student leader at Washington University in St. Louis on Saturday dismantled a public memorial for victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Fadel Alkilani, the vice president of finance for the school's student union, removed nearly all of the 2,977 flags that the school's College Republicans had placed on campus. Each flag represented an American killed by Islamic extremists on Sept. 11, 2001. Alkilani was caught stuffing flags in trash bags twice on Saturday morning. In a statement criticizing the U.S. military posted to Instagram, he claimed including American flags in the memorial was "insidious."
"A memorial which uses US flags is especially insidious, as it does not recognize those who have fallen, but uses a symbol that was on the shoulders of those who are responsible for the deaths of 900,000 people," Alkilani said, referring to those killed in the war on terror. Such a memorial "uses the innocent lives lost during 9/11 as a political prop upholding American hegemony."
Sept. 11 memorials at several universities were vandalized this weekend, Campus Reform reported. The University of Virginia's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom found its 9/11 table and flag display in shambles. At Michigan State University, students crossed out a sign that said "Never Forget" and wrote "Never Israel" in its place. At Mount Holyoke College, one student wrote "there is blood on U.S. hands" underneath a chalk message memorializing those who were killed in the attacks.
Nick Rodriguez, president of the Washington University College Republicans, told the Washington Free Beacon that Alkilani has since deleted his Instagram. Rodriguez says Alkilani's actions are equivalent to "pissing on the graves" of Americans killed during the attacks.
While Rodriguez said he can't recall another time when conservative students were openly attacked on campus, he said those who share conservative or moderate views on social media often face backlash. The environment has, over the past several years, become "hyper-liberalized."
As the vice president of finance, Alkilani is responsible for managing the student union's budget, which includes funding for student clubs. Rodriguez said Alkilani's actions demonstrate a "conflict of interest" he has in budget-related matters.
"I think his actions are ridiculous and malicious and regarding his position, that is the most gross malpractice for a leader of the student community at Wash U, and at minimum shows a conflict of interest with the budget," Rodriguez said.
Razing the College Republicans' memorial wasn't the first time Alkilani expressed hostility toward the American response to the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2019, Alkilani wrote in the Washington University Political Review that Americans "united in hatred" against "those who are ‘other.'"
University officials have released two statements in response to the incident. The school's initial statement called Alkilani's actions "reprehensible."
Washington University has not taken action against Alkilani as of this writing.
"The 9/11 memorial has always been a nonpartisan nonpolitical moment that has brought together unity on this campus," Rodriguez told the Free Beacon. "He broke campus rules, violated numerous policies, stole property, and above all else, he broke what is a rule of living in America and at the very least holding some sort of remembrance to the memory of 9/11."