UConn students stage demonstration after message posted on dorm - WFSB 3 Connecticut

UConn students stage demonstration after message posted on dorm room door

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UConn students staged a sit-in on Monday. (WFSB photo) UConn students staged a sit-in on Monday. (WFSB photo)

After a racially charged statement written on a dorm room door at the University of Connecticut, hundreds of students voiced their opposition to the crime by staging a sit-in on campus.

This while French officials said their forces have raided more than 160 locations in response to Friday’s attacks that left 129 people dead.

As tensions continue overseas, a University of Connecticut student said he was the victim of a hurtful message because of his name.

"I'm not a terrorist. I don't deserve that," Mahmoud Hashem said.

Hashem said a message was written on his dorm room door just after the attacks and insinuated that he was responsible for what happened in Paris.

Hashem has been at the university for two months, and even changed his look to reassure his fellow students that he isn't a terrorist, all after the message was left on his dorm room door, which said "Mahmoud killed Paris."

"I was so upset. I cried at first," he said. "I love America, I've come to America, so don't treat me like a terrorist."

University officials said they are taking the matter very seriously.

In a statement on Monday, the university said "The more people can talk about this, the better. There's no hiding in the shadows of this for any college campus and we never want to be a campus that doesn't look this square in the face."

Despite the isolated incident, dozens of students gathered over the weekend to honor the victims of the attacks.

On Monday, hundreds took part in the sit-in at Wilbur Cross Library, which included students and staff, all showing Hashem love and support.

"To have that reflect on the entire university is a shame. A lot more people out there in this UConn community are better than that," said UConn sophomore Peter Carcia.

The show of support and love was especially meaningful for Luciee Rodriguez, who said she grew up in Paris. Her father and brothers still live there.

"On Facebook the notifications said they were in safety and everyone started coming inside,” she told Eyewitness News. “So once I knew everyone was safe, it felt better."

UConn students and administrators said they are taking a stand, letting all of us know that racism won't be tolerated on campus.

Students who participated on Monday said they were glad to see that the administrators in higher education are standing with them.

"I saw that email this morning and I smiled. This is what we want, I was happy with the turnout, so this is the right step in the right direction," said organizer of the sit-in Omar Allam.

Right now in America, the spotlight is on colleges focused on how they respond to these racial incidents. The University of Missouri president stepped down last week after students protested his perceived indifference to racially charged crimes.

At UConn, that's not happening. President Susan Herbst sent out a note to students and faculty, encouraging them to attend this sit-in, making sure that everyone knows and sees that the campus is coming together against racism.

Police in France said they have more than 100 people on “house arrest” and 23 in custody. Weapons in connection with the attacks have also been seized.

The suspected mastermind behind the attacks has been identified as Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

An international manhunt continues for an eighth suspect, also believed to be a Belgian.

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