A Washington University student was caught on camera tossing thousands of American flags commemorating the lives lost in the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the garbage — calling the display a “political prop upholding American hegemony.”
Fadel Alkilani was seen stuffing blue garbage bags with the flags Saturday on the St. Louis, Missouri campus, before he’s confronted by another student who is filming him, college newspaper Student Life reported.
“[Alkilani] said that [the display] was in violation of school rules. He was also saying profanity,” said Nathaniel Hope, a member of the university’s College Republicans, told conservative youth organization Young America’s Foundation.
The College Republicans had placed the 2,977 flags on Mudd Field ahead of the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
Footage posted by YAF to Twitter condemned Alkilani’s behavior as “despicable.”
But Alkilani, the vice president of finance of the university’s Student Union, defended his actions, saying his protest was to bring attention to the rise of Islamaphobia and criticize US military intervention in the Middle East.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“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, and uses the innocent lives lost during 9/11 as a political prop upholding American hegemony.
He added that the 9/11 victims “deserve better than to be used as a political tool by those who seek to excuse American imperialism and Islamophobia.
“They died for no reason, suddenly and traumatically, and they should be grieved, not by political symbols, but by their names and faces. I also want to extend my condolences to all those who have died and been injured, both American and not, since 9/11,” he said.
School officials, however, said they were “disappointed” to learn of the incident.
“We were disappointed to learn about the disruption to the 9/11 display on Mudd Field. 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,” Executive Director Susan McGinn said in a statement.
She continued, “We value freedom of expression in all forms and will work to ensure that all students are able to express their points of view through appropriate channels without disrupting the rights of others to show support for causes they care about.”