A Missouri university student has prompted an investigation by the school after removing 2,977 U.S. flags, commemorating the victims of 9/11, in plastic bags. The flags had been placed by the Washington University College Republicans, which called for the student’s expulsion after a video of the incident was posted by a conservative youth organization and went semi-viral. The student, Fadel Alkilani, a vice president of finance with the Student Union, clarified in a statement that he had been protesting the display, which failed to acknowledge American Islamophobia or post-9/11 civilian deaths in the Middle East caused by U.S. troops.
“Any memorial of 9/11 that does not contend with these facts is not only incomplete,” Alkilani said, “but it also amplifies pro-imperialist sentiment.” He went on to explain his unrealized plan to leave the bags on Mudd Field, alongside statistics reflecting the true cost of the September 11 attacks. “Those who died during 9/11 deserve better,” he said, than to be used as “a political cudgel” by people looking to justify hate. “They died for no reason,” he added of the victims, “suddenly and traumatically, and they should be grieved, not by political symbols, but by their names and faces.” The university condemned the removals, but declined to say yet whether Alkilani would face disciplinary measures.