Rabat - The University of Central Florida campus went on lockdown on April 26th, after an unidentified person mistakenly reported the presence of a "Middle Eastern gunman” in the school’s main library.
Rabat – The University of Central Florida campus went on lockdown on April 26th, after an unidentified person mistakenly reported the presence of a “Middle Eastern gunman” in the school’s main library.
The gunman turned out to be a young Muslim woman who worked at the library and took a few minutes to pray in the stairwell. In her hands, she held a Quran, not a gun.
The incident has been called Islamophobic and racist by members of the Muslim community and other allies.
Social media posts indicate that the situation escalated when a female student posted in a Facebook group of over 60 members the following message:
“If anyone is at the library please be cautious and I would leave immediately. One of my friends saw someone who appeared to be holding a gun in their hands and praying. I am not saying this to scare everyone but people I know I have already left and I do not know is anything else has happened since the sighting. Please let me know if you guys hear anything as well. And be safe. I love you all [sic].”
A report by Huffington Post said a pair of female students called the police when they saw a young woman wearing a hijab or burka praying in the library stairwell, who “quickly went to her knees.”
The motion of bending over and placing one’s hands above the knees is one of the three major positions taken during Islamic prayers, which believers complete five times a day.
The caller added that her companion saw a silver and black handheld object, which she presumed to be a gun or another type of weapon. The object was discovered to be the Islamic holy book.
Knight News, a campus news source, tweeted soon afterwards that students should “avoid” the main campus library” because of a possible “Middle Eastern man/woman” in the area.
Armed police officers searched the area over the next hour, but no suspect was found.
UCF’s Muslim Student Association posted on Facebook on Tuesday saying that the organization’s leaders understood “how outraged [members] are about this situation,” but requested the community to be mindful of their posts on social media and approach the situation with “good character” as the Muslim students are the “face of Islam” at the university.