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Someone desecrated a Torah at a George Washington University fraternity

A sign on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where a Torah belonging to an on-campus fraternity was vandalized in what officials are calling an antisemitic attack.
A sign on the campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where a Torah belonging to an on-campus fraternity was vandalized in what officials are calling an antisemitic attack.

A Torah belonging to a George Washington University fraternity was desecrated over the weekend, fraternity and university officials said.

Members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and top school authorities have condemned what they're calling an antisemitic attack.

"Our entire chapter is outraged and saddened by this blatant act of antisemitism and violence against our brothers," the chapter at the Washington, D.C., school said in an Instagram post.

It's unclear who perpetrated the vandalism, which included damage to cabinets and a smoke detector, in addition to the Torah. The city's Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, according to a police report shared with NPR. The university's police department is also involved in the investigation.

"I condemn antisemitism and all forms of hatred, discrimination, and bias in our community," GW President Thomas J. LeBlanc said in a statement. "The desecration of the Torah scroll is a direct and serious act of hate, and an attack on Judaism and the Jewish people."

Laundry detergent was poured on a Torah inside the on-campus fraternity house, chapter president Chris Osborne told CNN. He told The GW Hatchet, a student newspaper, that other religious texts stored in the home's basement were unharmed, though a Bible was moved. (NPR reached out to Osborne for comment but did not immediately hear back.)

Fraternity members also said hot sauce was smeared on the kitchen counter and the fire alarms were ripped out of the walls, the newspaper reported.

Tau Kappa Epsilon, a men's social fraternity, says it has more than 225 "active chapters and colonies" in the U.S. and Canada. Osborne estimated that about a quarter of the fraternity's members are Jewish, according to the GW Hatchet.

Crowds turned out for a rally earlier this week to show solidarity with the fraternity, which said it was continuing to work with officials "to bring justice to the GWU community."

University authorities also announced they were increasing police patrols around the fraternity house and had sent several GW staff members to stay there.

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