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A McMaster University professor whose office door was spray painted with anti-Islamic profanity this week says this was not the first time she's been targeted by people on campus for her association with Muslim students.

Muriel Walker, an assistant professor of French at the Hamilton, Ont., university, said she's been told on several occasions "by colleagues and people around" that she shouldn't openly support events like the "Wear a Hijab Day" she organized last week.

"I was told that I would always be remembered as a crazy leftist who supports fanatical terrorists," she told The Globe and Mail yesterday.

"This equation that Arab equals Muslim equals terrorist . . . is very, very alive here, unfortunately."

Hamilton police have launched a hate-crime investigation into this latest incident, in which Prof. Walker's office door was spray painted with racist and profane graffiti. The vandalism crudely referred to Osama bin Laden, as well as the words "raghead lover" -- a term used to describe people who wear head scarves or turbans.

Copies of controversial Danish editorial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed were also glued to her door.

Investigators said they believe the incident was a backlash against the day Prof. Walker organized encouraging the wearing of the hijab to help sensitize people about Islam.

Sandra Wilson, the police force's community relations co-ordinator, said investigators still have no leads, but believe the perpetrators come from within the McMaster community. Ms. Wilson said the incident highlights the fact that the community is becoming more "racialized and diverse in Hamilton and, certainly, at McMaster. Unfortunately, that means we're going to see more of these types of incidents."

Mariam Ibrahim, a fourth-year political-science student at McMaster who helped organize a rally yesterday condemning Tuesday morning's incident, agreed that racist beliefs have been "simmering" on campus for months.

"It occurs in subtle ways," she said. "In an e-mail that's sent out, or a comment made in a lecture. People have been reporting suspicious incidents to campus security when they see a Muslim woman wearing a hijab walking by the nuclear reactor on campus."

She said she and other students have contacted university administrators in the past, but that nothing was done until this week. McMaster president Peter George, who spoke at yesterday's rally attended by about 100 students and community members, was unavailable for comment yesterday evening.

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