Ohio’s Wright State University is calling a video of a man ripping up a Koran on campus an expression of religious freedom after the video went viral this week.
The video depicts a man ripping apart a Koran while yelling, “This is evil” as the crowd chants, “God is love.” It also shows some members of the audience physically pushing the man, angry over his treatment of the Koran.
University officials say that the man is not a student at Wright but is a protester who goes from campus to campus to protest.
Wright State University President David Hopkins released a statement about the incident:
An individual not associated with our university ventured onto our campus and expressed himself in ways that many found disrespectful to various groups because of their religion, sexual orientation, gender, or status as a victim of sexual assault. His actions, in my opinion, were vile and disgusting. We all understand that public universities are places where a free exchange of ideas promotes the intellectual development of students and informs civic activity and policy beyond campus.
The man ripping the book identified himself as John Williams and said he belongs to a protest group called “Quad Gods.” The group travels across the country to stage religious protests.
After the protest, campus police escorted the man to his car. No arrests were made.
“To my knowledge, in my 16, 17 years here, I’ve never seen that,” Wright State Police Chief David Finnie said. “Our role here was simple. First of all, we support people expressing their First Amendment rights. There’s no better place than an academic setting.”
For his part, Williams told the media that his actions were intentional and planned ahead of time. “Sometimes it takes a radical approach to get people’s attention. We’re just fishing for souls out there.”
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