After the rancor which occurred the previous night at Emory University, organizers warned the audience for David Horowitz’s speech at George Washington University that those who engaged in disruptions of any kind would be escorted out of the auditorium by police. Sergio Gor, the president of the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) which hosted “Islamofascism Awareness Week,” a Terrorism Awareness Project sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, commented that while those in the audience might disagree with Horowitz, academic freedom demands that speakers expose students to differing viewpoints.
With a bodyguard in the backdrop and police officers surrounding the packed audience, David Horowitz commenced his speech by discussing the phony Muslim hate flyers that had appeared on GWU campus in recent weeks. He declared that across institutions of higher education, there is a campaign against conservatives, which he likened to a lynch mob. Those who had posted flyers that read “Hate Muslims? So Do We!!” and falsely attributed them to YAF intended to identify YAF members as racist and make them targets of a backlash. He observed that whenever someone disagrees with the Left, he is labeled as racist, sexist, homophobic, or anti-Islamic – words designed to shut down debate. The university administration promised harsh punishment for those who posted the flyers, but once it was discovered that seven leftist students were the perpetrators, the university never called the students to account, as far as can be discerned.
Horowitz began by covering numerous topics in his warm-up, including:
- the war in Iraq and its central role for the Islamic caliphate;
- Ahmadinejad’s wish to hasten the coming of the twelfth imam and start Armageddon;
- the use of Palestine as a pawn in the larger Arab-Israeli conflict;
- the refusal of Palestinians to recognize the legitimacy of Israel; and
- a brief history of the Middle East.
Then the civil rights activist turned to the heart of the discussion: Islamofascism. Citing Iran’s recent decision to outlaw public hand-holding, Horowitz explained that Islamofascism is totalitarian in nature because in Islamic theocracies, it is the government, not just religion, that intrudes into every aspect of one’s life. He displayed a poster of Muslims in Afghanistan holding an AK-47 at point blank range to a woman’s head, as she cringed, knowing she was about to be shot for alleged sexual improprieties. This underscored that Muslims are themselves the chief victims of extremist Islamofascism. David Horowitz stated in no uncertain terms that most Muslims are law-abiding and peace loving, and it is perfectly possible to have a secular country with a majority of practicing Muslims. “We are being attacked by a movement whose authority is the Koran; it doesn’t mean it’s a correct interpretation of the Koran,” he said. Islam itself is not to be identified with “Islamofascism.”
The theme of Horowitz’ speech was that we must understand who our enemy is; we must read their own words and take them seriously. When they say they want to wipe Israel off the face of the map, they mean it. Whey they say they want nuclear weapons, we should prevent it. When they insist they want the destruction of America and Israel, we should not try to appease them. The consequences of not taking our enemy seriously will be worse than they were in WWII, when we failed to heed the words of Hitler.
The audience was surprisingly respectful during the talk – perhaps because of the police presence. A large number of students and board members from the Muslim Students Association (MSA) attended. Some wore hijabs; others identified themselves as Muslim during the question and answer period. One MSA student, visibly upset, took issue with Horowitz’ suggestion that the Women’s Studies Department should teach a class on the oppression of women in Islam. In return, David Horowitz stated that MSA is part of the problem. “You are part of the effort keeping me from making the distinction [between radical Islam, or Islamofascism, and Islam itself].”
He was all-too right. MSA was started by the Muslim Brotherhood, the father of all radical Islamist organizations. It is a proponent of Wahabbism and distributes extremist propaganda. Until recently, the UCLA chapter of MSA sponsored an annual “Anti-Zionist Week,” where it raised money for Hamas and Hezbollah. And, though it denies it, MSA is heavily backed by Saudi money. Prior to September 11, 2001, MSA conducted fundraising for the Global Relief Foundation, the Benevolence Foundation, and the Holy Land Foundation, all of which eventually had their assets frozen because they had terrorist ties and were funneling money to terrorists. Its members have defended Sami al-Arian and declared that they do not view Hamas as a terrorist organization. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an offshoot of MSA, was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the recent criminal trial against the Holy Land Foundation.
Horowitz asked this MSA student to denounce Hamas, but she refused, claiming she didn’t know what Hamas was. Other angry questions swept through the crowd.
As I exited, the same MSA student was yelling to a crowd that if someone tells her which newspaper will listen, she’ll publicly denounce terrorism. As I passed her, I pointed out that David Horowitz just gave her three chances to do just that. She insisted that she disagrees with terrorism, but cannot comment on Hamas: “I really don’t know what Hamas is. I don’t have time to look it up. I’m taking 14 credits” (a light load by any standard).
In the lobby, I found myself engaged in dialogue with a small group of Muslim students. They insisted that terrorism never has anything to do with Islam. I was bombarded with challenges: What do I know about Islam? Have I ever read the Koran? Do I know its proper interpretation? If not, how can I be sure that I wouldn’t want to live under Shari’a law? One student opined that acts referred to as Islamic terrorism are really a series of isolated, unrelated incidents. Another particularly defensive student retorted that she learned on CNN’s “God’s Warriors” that there is an equal amount of Islamic, Christian, and Jewish terrorism. Ignoring the jihadists’ chants of “Allahu Akbar!” (Allah is great) and their own claims of service to Allah, she told me that heinous acts are merely crimes that have been branded as Islamic terrorism.
One young woman asserted that Islam is not violent or oppressive, and she would prefer to live in a country ruled by Shari’a law. Though there are honor killings in Pakistan, her home country, she felt she has more freedom there because nobody gives her “funny looks” for wearing her hijab. She insisted any country that sponsors violence against women follows an “improper interpretation of Shari’a,” and she wants to live in a country (as yet unnamed) that implements Shari’a “properly.”
Several students sang the praises of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), another unindicted co-conspirator in a terror trial whose members are extensively linked to terrorism. It was clear that these students were completely oblivious to the networks, funding, history and ideology shared by radical Islamists and their pet organizations – or they were playing ignorant. When I tried to point out these connections, they insisted anyone who critiqued these groups must be motivated by bias – a sign that the phony fliers David Horowitz discussed in his speech had done their job.
The Muslim students’ open display of ignorance proved the need for the event against which they protested: Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.
Deborah Weiss is an attorney and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy. She was Manhattan Director for the Forbes for President Campaign and formerly a counsel on the Committee for House Oversight in Congress. She is a 9/11 survivor from the WTC attacks.