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Muslim Students' "Obsession" with Censorship By: Phil Orenstein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Readers of FrontPageMag.com know that academic freedom is an endangered species on American campuses. This not only reveals the corruption of academic standards and intellectual openness at our universities, but also presents a real danger by denying a candid examination of today's most pressing issues and events, because the facts are not approved by the campus multicultural thought police.

Two recent events show how academic freedom and student's rights have been discarded and that bullying, coercion and monolithic thinking rule the day on our campuses. One was an event sponsored by Hillel at Pace University where Obsession -- the new movie documenting radical Islam's war against the West -- was to be shown during their Jewish Awareness Week program. The event was cancelled due to protests from the Muslim Students Association (MSA), who had been graciously invited to participate in the event. Instead, the MSA issued threats of incitement, hateful emails, and anti-Semitic slurs until Pace administrators bullied Hillel President Michael Abdurakmanov into submission
. Pace administrators threatened to have the police look into his personal record and stated Hillel would incur anti-Muslim hate crimes charges. Mr. Abdurakmanov was summoned to a "mediation meeting," where he -- alone in representing Hillel -- faced down more than one MSA representative and six school administrators. He was shouted down and physically restrained by the dean of student activities when he tried to explain the significance of Obsession, a film, he explained, dealt only with radical Islam. He even offered a private screening of the film to MSA representatives and Pace administrators, to no avail.

A similar scenario took place at Brown University when the Hillel club planned to invite one of the featured speakers in Obsession, FrontPage Magazine contributor Nonie Darwish, to give a talk exposing the radical Islamic in Gaza. Again, the MSA chapter at Brown protested the event, complaining that Darwish was "too controversial." After a heated debate, Hillel timidly backed down and cancelled the event, not wanting to "upset its 'beautiful relationship' with the Muslim community." (Brown's Muslim community had no trouble marring the "beautiful relationship" by holding anti-Israel events during "Palestinian Solidarity Week.") One FrontPage article notes that Nonie Darwish's is an Arab voice that needs to be heard, and it is "too bad the young Muslims and their Jewish enablers at Brown wont hear it."

In response Yael Richardson, president of Hillel at Brown University, wrote a mealy-mouthed letter to the editor standing by Hillel's decision not to sponsor Darwish's lecture. She placed the blame on Darwish, saying, "it is not Hillel's place to sponsor a speaker who has made statements which denigrate Islamic observance." She continued, "Hillel certainly has a responsibility to provide an outlet for a variety of views on Israel, but it also has an obligation to do so in a considerate and respectful way," as though Darwish is neither considerate nor respectful.

Shame on Yael Richardson and Hillel, for acquiescing to the bullying tactics of MSA and no doubt, from Brown administrators as well, who protect anti-Israel hate speech in the name of academic freedom. She should at least not be so disingenuous as to fclaim Nonie Darwish denigrates Islam, which Darwish has never done. Darwish's message is one of love and reconciliation. Rather, in numerous interviews and articles Darwish, praises the beauty of Muslims who practice Islam peacefully while speaking out against terrorism and the violent radical strain that has commandeered their faith. Her story could dispel "Islamophobia", but it so rarely gets a fair hearing in academia or among American Muslim organizations, particularly the MSA.

MSA is a radical campus group with chapters on 150 college campuses across North America. According to Stephen Schwartz, although they paint themselves as a moderate peace loving organization, MSA is the campus recruiting arm of Wahhabi Islam, the puritanical anti-Western sect at the heart of the worldwide Islamic jihad. Chapter websites have featured propaganda of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and have also solicited funds for Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic charity shut down by the U.S. government due to its terrorist ties. MSA campus chapters have sponsored such events as "Anti-Zionist Week" and anti-Semitic rallies and held conferences where speakers praised Hamas as they chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to the Jews." Clearly, this is an organization that merits campus scrutiny, not Hillel.

Not only has academia closed its doors to a scholarly diversity of viewpoints, but also most has run interference for those who justify and enable terrorism. Academia doesn't seem to have the means or ability to examine the motives or intentions of extremist groups that exploit our universities and free institutions in America and abuse our freedoms to do us harm. Rather our campuses have provided a base of operations for such dangerous front groups to flourish, recruit and poison the minds of unsuspecting young students.

Fortunately some forthright students are fighting back. Michael Abdurakmanov and the College Republicans at Pace plan to hold a large joint screening of Obsession next semester. Then Pace's real education will begin.

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Phil Orenstein is a manufacturing systems manager at Orics Industries Inc. based in Queens, NY, and formerly an adjunct lecturer of Computer Aided Manufacturing at Queensborough Community College and Farmingdale State University.

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