Idaho State University officials say someone from out of state was was responsible for distributing DVDs containing anti-Muslim propaganda Monday.
The DVDs were placed on car windshields near the Rendezvous Complex and around housing areas sometime between late afternoon and evening, said Stuart Summers, associate vice president of marketing and communications for ISU.
Public Safety officials rounded up many of the DVDs soon after students reported them.
The DVDs were “apparently distributed by a lone male from another state who has no discernible connection to ISU or Pocatello,” Summers said. “It is our belief that the man left Pocatello immediately following the distribution of materials.”
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The DVDs came just weeks after a New York Times article examining the cultural clash in Pocatello as more Middle Eastern students have come to ISU.
But Summers said the community member’s response to the DVDs shows how diversity is accepted in Pocatello.
An ISU Facebook post Tuesday said the school does not condone the actions and takes a strong stance against intolerance.
“Being able to see Pocatello and the region rally behind diversity and support it speaks to the caliber of the wonderful area that we live in. Recent articles and recent opinions about our area’s lack of acceptance were maybe discredited today,” Summers said.
Daniel Hummel, secretary of the Islamic Society of Southeastern Idaho, said he’s concerned about the DVDs. Hate speech can be linked to hate crimes and attacks.
“I worry all the time with the current environment and how people feel about Muslims in this country,” he said.
Hummel noted that he didn’t really understand how much persecution Muslims faced until he became one. As a white male, he doesn’t run into too many issues when by himself, but he’s heard people say terrible things when he’s out with his wife, who wears a scarf, he said.
“They’ve called me a terrorist to my face,” he stated.
2Great4Hate Pocatello held a Wednesday press conference. “Our hearts go out to the individuals and families, whether permanent residents or student guests of this community, who were targeted by such an ugly assault,” said President Dave Finkelnburg. “No one should underestimate how much this harms their peace of mind, how much this erodes their sense of security in their own homes, nor how much this hurts those innocent individuals. An attack on any one of them is an attack on us all and we stand with them.”
Summers said ISU alerted law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, about Monday’s incident because hate messages were involved.
“Any time students are potentially targeted, we do everything we can to ensure student safety,” he said. ISU is organizing a public forum to address diversity on campus.