A local man claiming to be part of the Knights Templar was arrested on Saturday night after allegedly interrupting a Muslim Student Association welcome back dinner and telling students that “Muslims are going to hell”, according to multiple witnesses and police reports.
While the incident reflects a nationwide spike in bias crimes in the wake of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, MSA members say they are treating it as an isolated event and do not plan to scale back any of their events in response.
The man, Adam Pyle, 26, of Princeton Township, had apparently been present for part of the actual dinner at Campus Club, said Sohaib Sultan, the University’s Muslim life coordinator. Toward the conclusion of the dinner, Pyle left the dining area and allegedly started going through the backpack of Jihad Al-Jabban ’14, the MSA public relations chair.
When Al-Jabban walked over, Pyle explained that he was a Christian but still a member of the “ummah”, the global Muslim community, according to Al-Jabban. Pyle then proceeded to bow and ask MSA members if they were members of the ummah, said MSA vice president Areej Hassan ’13. He also allegedly asked a member, “Why do you hate Jews?” Hassan is a staff writer for The Daily Princetonian.
“I immediately became a little bit nervous about what his intentions were,” Sultan said. “I realized this could be a potentially violent situation.”
Sultan then ushered the 60 to 70 students attending the dinner into a closed room away from Pyle, and an attendee called Public Safety. In the meantime, Pyle allegedly said, “Muslims are going to hell” and “Death to Muslims”, and began walking toward the students, according to Sultan.
“I stood right in front of him and said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not going to let [you] go inside’,” Sultan recalled. During the night, Pyle also allegedly made references to the anti-Christ, University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua said in an email.
At 8:57 p.m., Public Safety officers arrested Pyle and charged him with bias intimidation, criminal attempt, disorderly conduct, harassment and defiant trespass, Mbugua said. Pyle will face the criminal charges on Monday in the Borough Municipal Court. Public Safety ordered Pyle to stay away from campus for the next 90 days, and the department intends to ban him permanently.