Anti-Muslim posters at University of Calgary prompt rally of support

Students, faculty and administrators gathered at the University of Calgary to condemn anti-Muslim posters that were plastered around the campus. 'To see something like this is truly disturbing,' university president says.

WARNING: Graphic language

Students and staff at the University of Calgary responded by coming together to write messages of support and tolerance after the campus was blanketed with vulgar, anti-Muslim posters, an example of which is seen at right (with one swear word blacked out.) (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Students, faculty and administrators gathered at the University of Calgary on Tuesday to condemn anti-Muslim posters that were plastered around the campus overnight.

About 40 posters were discovered in various locations by morning, and the university was asking people to turn in any others that are found to campus security.

"To see something like this is truly disturbing," university president Elizabeth Cannon said. "It makes me personally very angry."

The university has involved Calgary police, who are investigating, Cannon noted.

"But really, we're here today to support our Muslim students," she said at a midday gathering outside the MacEwan Student Centre.

"It really is a community coming together and saying the University of Calgary is strong and we respect one another, regardless of where you come from."

People at the gathering wrote messages of support and tolerance on posters of their own, some hanging notes from tree branches on heart-shaped pieces of paper with comments like, "You are a valued member of our community."

Sagar Grewal hangs a message of support to Muslims at the University of Calgary. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

The removed posters included wording such as "Dear Muslims ... F--k your Quran" and "go back to the monstrous s--t holes you come from."

They also included links to one Facebook page calling for Islam to be banned in Canada, and another that purports to "celebrate Canada's European heritage" but is largely filled with posts about Donald Trump, the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, and links to American websites that decry "race agitators" and people who wear baggy pants.

The posters' appearance at the University of Calgary comes two weeks after similar posters targeting the Sikh faith were found at the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton.

Those posters depicted a turbaned man and the message: "F---k your Turban ... If you're so obsessed with your third world culture go the f---k back to where you came from!"

That incident prompted an event in response called "Turban, Eh?" which invited anyone and everyone to get a temporary turban tied on their heads, as a way to show of support for the local Sikh community and to educate others about the head coverings.

Turban, Eh! event educates students about Sikh faith

7 years ago
Duration 1:29
Students and visitors at the University of Alberta got to try on a turban and learn about the Sikh faith.

Premier Rachel Notley said the anti-Muslim and anti-Sikh posters were disturbing and should be condemned.

"It's very important for the vast majority of Albertans, who I believe join me in being offended by those kinds of posters, those kinds of statements, for all of us to speak out and say that it is not acceptable," Notley told reporters Tuesday when asked about the latest incident.

"We embrace inclusion and acceptance and mutual understanding. That's the kind of province that we're building and, you know what? It makes our province stronger when we commit to building that."

'I still feel very welcome'

Muslim Students' Association president Umair Tazeem, who is in his fourth year of study at the University of Calgary, said this is the first incident of its kind that he has heard of on campus.

"I was very shocked that this happened. It's not something very common," he said.

"It's a very welcoming, very inclusive community. But the reality is, this stuff does happen."

Umair Tazeem, president of the Muslim Students' Association at the University of Calgary, says an incident Tuesday involving anti-Muslim posters was the first of its kind that he had heard of on campus in his four years of study. (CBC)

If the goal of the posters was to make Muslim students feel out of place, Tazeem said it failed.

"I still feel very welcome," he said. "I feel like I belong on campus."

Similar posters left in nearby mailboxes

CBC News has confirmed that some residents in a northwest community near the university also received anti-Muslim posters in their mailboxes Tuesday morning.

Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Swann said one of his neighbours, who lives in Hillhurst Sunnyside, received one of the posters.

Swann took to Twitter to express his outrage.

"What a horrible act of hatred and cowardice. To find such an item in my mailbox this morning: absolutely deplorable #yyc #ableg," he tweeted.

This poster, with the expletives removed, was found in some mailboxes in Hillhurst Sunnyside Tuesday. (CBC)

With files from Colleen Underwood, Raffy Boudjikanian and Mathieu Simard