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Suspect arrested over alleged “intimidation” outside Islamic prayer room

Naaman Zhou reports

police tape

Police have arrested a suspect over the alleged verbal intimidation of three Muslim students outside the Islamic prayer room on campus.

The suspect, described by students on the scene as a man in his 50s of Anglo-Saxon appearance, was charged with possession of a prohibited drug and of stalking and intimidation regarding the March 4 incident.

In February, the prayer room was ransacked with hate mail left at the door. An Honi investigation revealed this to be the fifth break-in over a three month period.

A spokesperson for NSW Police told Honi that no arrest had been made regarding the break-in, though the investigation remains ongoing.

“This particular individual has only been charged for one incident, and we don’t believe they are linked to the other incident at this stage.”

In recent weeks, the University has also seen other Islamophobic incidents including graffiti and defaced posters.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Registrar) Tyrone Carlin told Honi that the University was looking at “a range of measures to enhance security around the prayer room.” This would include the installation of additional CCTV cameras and security patrols in Old Teachers’ College, where the room is located.

Professor Carlin also mentioned a recent campus-wide email from the Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence that condemned Islamophobic behaviour as an important move.

Earlier this month, pro-refugee posters were defaced with Islamophobic messages saying “No Muslims” and “Muslims rape babies”. The discovery prompted student leaders and a NSW Parliamentarian, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, to call on the University to do more.

NSW Police said the man had been bailed and would attend Newtown Local Court on March 31. According to campus security, the man has been barred from attending the grounds of the University.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said the suspect had been arrested in regards to the ransacking of the prayer room. This has been amended to indicate that the arrest concerned a separate offence.