Pelican Speaks to Majdi Fal

Earlier today, a pig’s head was found in a UWA bathroom adjacent to a prayer room and community space used predominantly by Muslim students. When Majdi Fal discovered the head, he uploaded photos online. Majdi spoke with Pelican about the response both online and from the University.

Hi Majdi, could you describe what happened earlier today?

Yeah so I went to the toilet, which is close to the Muslim Prayer Room on the UWA campus. Suddenly I found something inside the toilet itself, and I did not know what it was, I saw some blood and stepped in to see what it was, and it was a pig’s head. I had all these terrible ideas about what it could be, I thought it could be a human head and I had all these terrible ideas about what could have happened. But I stepped in again and saw it was a pig’s head, so I called security.

Is this something you thought could happen at UWA?

This is the first time something like this has happened, minor incidents have happened and someone has said the small prayer room has been vandalised before, but this is the first time something major has happened at UWA.

Have you seen other cases of islamophobia on campus?

On campus I don’t recall seeing any. I did see another incident a few months ago, but this wasn’t on campus.

Does this change how you feel about the community at UWA?

No, it didn’t really change my feelings about the whole society here. I’m sure the people who did this think for themselves and only represent themselves. They do not represent the community here at all; I got a lot of messages of support from people from all ethnic groups, from all types of people living in Australia showing support, and we’re all in this together. These acts only represent this minority of people who speak only for themselves.

Did you get any response from the staff at this stage?

Well, it’s a Sunday, but I hear they’ve been made aware of what happened, someone from the university has told me that the Vice-Chancellor and other staff members have been made aware since it’s a big incident. But I don’t know what action will be required; hopefully they’ll take immediate action starting tomorrow. It’s a minor incident, really, but we need to be more alert – not really alarmed, but alert. Because major things can happen and we need to be aware. I was told that kids use the prayer room to learn on Saturday mornings and other times on the weekend, where basically they learn languages and Islamic studies, so it might be a threat for the kids is all. That’s why I think the university, or otherwise the city, needs to take immediate action to protect the community. And this can happen to any community, not necessarily the Muslim community, it can happen to other minority communities as well.

It was a good thing that it wasn’t the children that found it then!

Yeah absolutely, I’m an adult so it won’t really affect me as much as a child. I think these things do happen for a reason, I do want to send a message of peace to everyone, and the children themselves are the leaders of the future. I would tell them to try and build bridges of tolerance between different people in the community, between people of all religions and walks of life who need to build understanding. I hope future generations can work on this.

Is there any way you’d hope to see the university respond?

I heard that there were no cameras in immediate proximity to the prayer hall, or the whole building even. I hope there’ll be more security. I don’t have any specific response in mind but I’m sure the university will do its best to protect diversity in the community and the university itself.

The UWA Student Guild has stated it would like to work with the Muslim Students Association and the strong and diverse ethno-cultural community at UWA to respond to these acts and make sure students feel safe and valued in the UWA community. The Guild Student Assist Officers (professional caseworkers) are available for anyone who has been affected by these incidents.

Words by Hayden Dalziel