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CAIR-Philadelphia Condemns Vandalism Targeting Penn Hillel

Refutes Disingenuous Attempts to Tie the Incident to Palestine Writes Festival 


(Philadelphia, P.A., 9/22/2023) - The Philadelphia chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) today condemned the vandalism targeting The Hillel building located on the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) campus. 


The incident reportedly took place on Thursday, September 21 early morning hours when an employee opening the building was followed by an individual who reportedly shouted antisemitic slurs and caused physical damage before he was apprehended by the campus police.


In a statement provided to the Daily Pennsylvanian, UPenn's Division of Public Safety said that prior to entering the building, the individual was "overturning trash cans" and "acting erratically" on university of Pennsylvania's urban campus. University Police were notified and found the perpetrator at the Penn Hillel building, where they determined that the perpetrator was "experiencing a crisis," removed the individual, and transported him for "further evaluation." 


See: Penn Hillel vandalized by individual who shouted 'antisemitic obscenities,' knocked over furniture


In a statement, CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Dr. Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu  said

"We unequivocally condemn the vandalism targeting Penn Hillel. We encourage University of Pennsylvania to offer support to the Hillel and equip its campus security personnel with de-escalation trainings to ensure incidents like this can be prevented before they happen."


Dr. Tekelioglu also condemned statements from Penn Hillel and the ADL that suggested the incident was tied to the Palestine Writes Festival taking place on Penn Campus September 22-24. 


Tekelioglu said: 


"We find it disingenuous to try to connect this incident to the Palestine Writes Festival. The ongoing attacks against Palestine Writes hinges on a false dichotomy that paints criticism of the inhumane policies of the State of Israel and the political ideology of Zionism with antisemitism. Multiple student groups spanning Jewish, Asian, and Black communities threw their support behind the Festival and the Penn students and Faculty who put together an impressive program celebrating Palestinian culture this weekend. Attacking artists and scholars like Susan Abulhawa, Marc Lamont Hill, and Noura Erakat for their principled stances is unacceptable and the University of Pennsylvania administration should apologize to the Festival for their past biased statements about Palestine Writes. CAIR- Philadelphia is a proud sponsor of Palestine Writes Festival and we invite our community to enjoy and celebrate the program."


See: Palestine Writes letter to University of Pennsylvania


See: Palestine Writes literary festival at Penn to Celebrate Palestinian Culture:


CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.              


La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.