Washington Student Accused of Removing US Flags From 9/11 Memorial

  • A Washington University student is being accused of removing American flags from a 9/11 display.
  • The man, identified as Fadel Alkilani, was caught on camera putting flags into garbage bags.
  • Alkilani said he wanted to critique the American military interventions that followed 9/11.

A student at Washington University unilaterally removed thousands of 9/11 memorial flags and piled them into garbage bags in a protest against Islamophobia and US military interventions, according to the college newspaper. 

In a video posted online, the student can be seen holding multiple plastic bags containing the small American flags that he had removed from a memorial on Mudd Field at the university in St Louis, Missouri.

The flags — a total of 2,977 — were placed on the lawn to honor the people who lost their lives in the attacks 20 years on.

The student has since been identified by the university’s newspaper, Student Life, as Fadel Alkilani, the vice president of finance for the student union.

Washington University officials said they were “disappointed” to learn about the disruption to the 9/11 display, adding in a statement: “We condemn the interference with the expression of support by the College Republicans for the victims of the national tragedy that took place 20 years ago today.”

They did not clarify whether Alkilani would face any punishment.

Alkilani has since defended his actions, saying he wanted to protest the Islamophobia and American military interventions that came after the 9/11 attacks.

“Any memorial of 9/11 that does not contend with these facts is not only incomplete, but it also amplifies pro-imperialist sentiment and actively disrespects those who have died because of American Invasion,” Alkilani wrote in a statement Saturday night.

Alkilani also said that he had wanted to stage a “protest” that involved putting the garbage bags on the campus field alongside various statistics explaining the human cost of the attacks.

“On the sides of the bags, some writing may be visible, but the full statement was not outlined at the time of the video. I did not deface, destroy, damage, nor steal any flags, nor did I interfere with any registered event time. I assert that I did not violate any University Code of Conduct policy, though the conduct process is undergoing,” he added.

Members of the student body have spoken out to condemn Alkilani’s actions and called for his expulsion.

WU College Republicans president Nick Rodriguez told the student newspaper: “At a minimum, I believe he should be removed from both SU [student union] and his [resident adviser] position, as what does it say to be a top American institution, and have yourself represented by a student leader who has no respect for property, campus traditions or the remembrance of thousands of lost lives.”

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