Brandeis Cancels Plan to Give Honorary Degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Critic of Islam

April 9, 2014


Facing growing criticism, Brandeis University said Tuesday that it had reversed course and would not award an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a campaigner for women’s rights and a fierce critic of Islam, who has called the religion “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.”

“We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” the university said in a statement released eight days after it had announced that Ms. Hirsi Ali and four other people would be honored at its commencement on May 18.

“You would think that someone at Brandeis would have learned to use Google,” said Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University, who said he thought Brandeis had arrived at the right position: not awarding a degree, but welcoming Ms. Hirsi Ali to speak.

Having drawn fire for inviting Ms. Hirsi Ali, Brandeis may now take criticism from other camps, whether for disavowing Ms. Hirsi Ali’s views, or for giving in to Muslim activists.

Even some of Ms. Hirsi Ali’s critics say they understand her hostility to Islam, given her experiences, though they think she goes too far. A native of Somalia, she has written and spoken extensively of her experience as a Muslim girl in East Africa, including undergoing genital cutting, a practice she has vigorously opposed, and her family’s attempts to force her to marry a man against her wishes.

In 2007, Ms. Hirsi Ali gave an interview to The London Evening Standard that was, by her own telling, the most unvarnished public expression of her views to that point, including the “cult of death” comment. She advocated the closing of Islamic schools in the West and said that “violence is inherent in Islam” and that “Islam is the new fascism.”

Later that year, in an interview with the publication Reason, she said, “I think that we are at war with Islam,” and said it must be defeated. “It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now,” she said. “They’re not interested in peace.”

Western leaders like George W. Bush and Tony Blair were striking a very different tone, insisting that they were at war with terrorist factions, not Islam as a whole.

Brandeis said last week that it intended to confer honorary degrees on five recipients, including Ms. Hirsi Ali. One of the recipients is Jill Abramson, the executive editor of The New York Times.

NY Times:

The question we should be asking about Brandeis, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Islam

April 11, 2014


Brandeis’ decision to rescind the honorary degree to Somali-Dutch Islamophobe Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been met with celebration and the to-be-expected condemnation from rightwing quarters.    Brandeis finally released a statement which read:  “We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”

Brandeis’ statement has been met with almost unanimous celebration from Muslim community members and also many Jewish community members.

It shouldn’t be.   But not for the reason one might think.

Let’s step out of the bizarre world in which we live—which we create—and ask a parallel question:

Would Princeton give an award to an activist who talks about Judaism as the religion devoted to worshipping an evil “fire-breathing” deity that commands Jews to violently destroy the world?

Would Notre Dame recognize an award to someone who talks about eradicating blacks?  Or Christians? Or Hispanics?

This is exactly the parallel of what Ms. Hirsi Ali has said, and repeatedly so, about Islam and Muslims for many years.

Let’s be clear about this.   This is not a freedom of speech issue.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali can get on Fox News anytime she wants, or speak at the Neo-conservative place of her employment, American Enterprise Institute, neither of which has any issue with her demonization of Islam and Muslims.

No, this is about a university finally doing what they should have done in the first place—their homework—and deciding not to honor a well-paid professional hate-monger.

Presumably Hirsi Ali came to their attention as a “champion of Muslim women’s rights.”
One cannot save Muslim women by destroying Muslims.

So, here’s the question we need to be asking:  Did Brandeis do their due diligence before awarding Ayaan Hirsi Ali?
If they did not, that’s a sign of incompetence.
If they did, it’s unconscionable.

Brandeis did the right thing.  Eventually. But perhaps rather than applauding the decision to rescind this offer, we should be asking another question:   how could Brandeis have chosen such a hateful person whose views are easily exposed through a simple Google search in the first place?

That is the real, and as of yet unanswered, question.

CAIR Welcomes Defeat of Md. Anti-Free Speech Bills

April 9, 2014


The Maryland outreach office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations today welcomed news that anti-free speech legislation introduced in the Maryland General Assembly’s 2014 session failed to pass.

H.B. 998 and S.B. 647 contained language that would have restricted student groups at Maryland’s public colleges and universities from supporting boycotts of foreign countries like Israel by limiting funds to these institutions.

Those bills were in response to the American Studies Association’s endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a non-violent form of protest against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Last month, representatives of CAIR’s Maryland Office, Jewish Voice for Peace, ACLU-MD, Center for Constitutional Rights, and many other diverse organizations testified at committee hearings in opposition of these bills.

Arguments cited in testimony included that it restricted academic freedom, chilled free speech and prohibited and dissuaded non-violent protest against the policies of foreign governments, namely Israel. The push to pass this legislation in Maryland was part of a larger nationwide effort to condemn academic boycotts of Israel.

Although the bills were defeated, the bill sponsors did succeed in adding anti-boycott language into the state budget which reaffirms Maryland’s Declaration of Cooperation with the state of Israel. However, the clause that was approved was significantly tamer than the original language in legislation introduced by Delegate Kramer that likened anti-BDS support to anti-Semitism.

“Methods of non-violent protest like boycotts have been historically successfully in changing controversial, unethical governmental policies,” said the director of CAIR’s Maryland outreach office,  Zainab Chaudry. “It’s reassuring that bills punishing free speech and peaceful protest on Maryland’s college campuses were dropped. Still, it’s disappointing that language condemning the same form of protest used to end Apartheid in South Africa and desegregate America’s own public spaces was inserted in our state’s budget bill as a last ditch effort by bill sponsors to prioritize personal interests.”

Approval rescinded for Shari’a Law event at Farragut High School

April 9, 2014


Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre has rescinded approval for an upcoming event at Farragut High School that some said discriminated against Muslims.

“The primary purpose of our school facilities is to provide a safe, healthy and comfortable learning environment for our students.  When other uses of the facility begin to impinge on or interfere with the administration’s ability to provide a suitable education atmosphere, it is necessary for us to reconsider that use,” read a letter sent to the group on Friday.

ACT! For America had planned on hosting what they called a town hall meeting to learn about Shari’a law, but some believe the group is doing more harm than good.

“It’s kind of an aggressive tone on the flyer,” said Abdel Rahman Murphy.

A flyer directing people to the town hall meeting by ACT! for America discussing Islam recently caught the attention of some people in the Knoxville Muslim community.

Murphy is the University of Tennessee Muslim Chaplain. He says he was contacted by a friend who saw it and raised concerns.

6 News reached out to the Knoxville chapter of ACT! for America. They say it is about education.

John Peach with ACT! For America implied that the venue simply should not matter.

“We feel like it’s very important that we have our public institutions take part in this because it’s not meant to be a religious thing. It’s not a political thing. It’s particularly for education purposes,” said Peach.

“The purpose of the meeting was to educate our local citizens about the dangers of Sharia Law, especially as it negatively affects our children, our churches, our law enforcement personnel, and our community leaders. Now, due to the fear of Muslims in the Knoxville area, the venue for the event that was open to everyone was cancelled. This is a great example of what Sharia Law is doing to America.”

There is no word yet if ACT! for America plans to hold the event in a new venue.

Whilst, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today said it has joined with concerned Muslims in Tennessee in welcoming cancellation of an anti-Muslim event scheduled for April 24 at a Knoxville high school.

6 ABC News:

American Muslims Stand with Jewish Community After Kansas Shootings

April 14, 2014


Political and religious leaders expressed sympathy after three people were fatally shot Sunday at a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement complex near Kansas City. Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, of Aurora, Mo., a known white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader, is jailed on a preliminary charge of first-degree murder.

The gunman is identified as Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, founder of the now-defunct White Patriot Party, a Ku Klux Klan group. He reportedly yelled ‘heil Hitler!’ as he opened fire with a shotgun outside the community center, killing Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood — who Corporon’s heartbroken son says are from a Methodist family. The shooter then drove to a nearby Jewish senior living facility and shot an elderly woman, cops said. He was later arrested.

“American Muslims join their fellow citizens in standing in solidarity with the American Jewish community in condemning this deadly hate attack and in offering condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured. We are saddened by this vicious act of hatred. Americans of all faiths must join together to reject the kind of extremist ideologies that can lead to such inexcusable and unconscionable acts.” — Council of American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S.

“We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters during this tragic time and pray that God Almighty provides everyone comfort and protection. … The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association strongly condemns targeting innocent individuals based on faith and believes in every one’s right to freedom of (or from) religion.” — The nationwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.

Washington Post:

NY Daily News:

CAIR-NY Welcomes NYPD Decision to Disband Muslim Spying Unit

April 15, 2014


The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today welcomed a decision by the New York Police Department (NYPD) to disband a special unit that conducted widespread warrantless surveillance of law-abiding Muslims.

That surveillance was part of a comprehensive human mapping program that described and monitored Islamic institutions, including houses of worship, student groups and businesses that cater to the Muslim community. The NYPD also recruited informants it referred to as “mosque crawlers” to monitor religious sermons without any suspicion of wrongdoing. Police officials acknowledge that the program never generated a criminal lead.



California Muslims to Lobby Lawmakers at 3rd Annual Muslim Day at the Capitol

April 15, 2014


California Muslims will meet with their state lawmakers in Sacramento as part of the annual “Muslim Day at the Capitol” organized by that state’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA), the nation’s leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization.



Three French Opinion Pieces

April 17, 2014


Fighting for French Islam: Integration to Islamophobia?

By Farah Mendjour on April 10, 2014



France, Islam and the ‘Spreading Hatred’: The EU has no extensions for the clash of civilizations that threatens European society

By John Vinocur on April 14, 2014



Viral French film on sexism accused of ‘Islamophobia’

By Nabila Pathan on April 13, 2014


Marseille 2014: Socialist Party Candidate Patrick Mennucci loses the mosque battleground

April 10, 2014


On Friday March 28th, the walls of a mosque in downtown Marseille were covered with posters in Arabic containing defamatory writings against Jean-Claude Gaudin, the current Mayor of Marseilles. While the police have yet to receive an official complaint, it has been suggested that the act was a means for the followers of Patrick Mennucci – the Socialist Mayor of the district where the mosque is located  – to seek revenge on the campaign led by Muslim leaders against ‘marriage for all’ and the introduction of gender theory classes in schools.

For Omar Djelil, a candidate for the 2nd and 3rd districts of Marseille and former Secretary General of Al Taqwa Mosque, a major concern of these elections is to cut off Patrick Mennucci, who supports gay marriage, from his Muslim electoral base. According to Djelil, the campaigns that he himself led against Mennucci via posters and social networks, after the candidate’s call to make Marseilles a ‘gay-friendly’ city, explains in large part the abstention rate of the Muslim electoral body otherwise known for supporting the Socialists. ‘However, we only used social and political arguments. We didn’t insult anyone personally, unlike those recent posters put up on our mosques’, said Djelil.

According to the leaders of religious communities, the municipal campaigns have indeed penetrated into places of worship: ‘although nobody dares to take a stance during the Friday prayer sermon, since mosques are very much under watch.’ On the other hand, gender theory classes and gay marriage are being overtly denounced. On several occasions, veiled women were seen distributing tracts against gay marriage in front of schools, said one witness.

As for the far-right Front National (FN) party, the regional candidate Stephane Ravier did well in certain districts, even making double the amount of votes of the incumbent mayor in one area. Apparently, the FN isn’t as threatening to Muslims and the generation born to parents from the former colonies: in the towns of Flamants, Frais-Vallon and Merlan, voters of Comorian and North African origin, the majority of whom are Muslim, didn’t hesitate to give their votes to Ravier.