Outrage after laundry detergent dumped on Torah scroll by vandals

Outrage after laundry detergent dumped on Torah scroll by vandals
George Washington University says they are ‘appalled by the antisemitic vandalism’

Dozens of students rallied in protest after vandals broke into a fraternity house at the George Washington University (GWU) in Washington DC and desecrated a Torah scroll.

The on-campus house of the Alpha-Pi chapter of the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity was vandalised over the weekend, according to the university and the fraternity.

House members said detergent was dumped on a copy of the Torah inside the building when they arrived there on Sunday morning, the chapter’s president Chris Osborne told CNN.

The Torah is the holiest Jewish scripture, composed of the Five Books of Moses.

Describing it as an act of “antisemitism,” the TKE fraternity said they were “outraged and saddened” by the blatant act of violence against their members, in a statement on Instagram on Sunday.

GWU also condemned the attack, especially the desecration of the Torah, calling it a “hateful incident.”

“I am appalled by the antisemitic vandalism that occurred at the TKE fraternity house, especially the desecration of the Torah scroll,” university president Thomas LeBlanc said in a separate statement on the same day.

“Any act of antisemitism is an attack on the entire GW community and cannot, and will not, be tolerated,” he added.

Mr Osborne said the vandalism was an act of antisemitism because there was also a Christian Bible in the room, but only the Jewish Torah had been desecrated.

House members also found sauce spilled on the house and floor detergent smeared on the basement floor. Smoke alarms were removed from the walls, reported CBS-affiliated channel WUSA9.

Qasim Rashid, a human rights lawyer, said it was a “shameless, cowardly, violent act.”

Several students and Jewish residents took part in a peaceful march against the desecration of Torah. The march was followed by a Torah recitation ceremony by a rabbi.

The Metropolitan Police Department, which is investigating the incident, also said the crime had an “anti-Jewish” hate bias or motivation, according to a report it provided on Monday.

University police has increased patrols around the area and several staff members have volunteered to stay in the house.

The local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League said they were asked to look into the matter and were expecting a quick investigation.

“Very disturbed to learn about this hateful incident that took place overnight at the TKE fraternity house on GWU’s campus. We’ve spoken with students and reached out to campus PD. We expect a full and rapid investigation,” it said.