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Pro-liberty Muslim’s ‘ills of Islamism’ talk protested by Muslim Students Association: ‘makes students unsafe’

At Duke University, ‘a temper tantrum over a Muslim led conversation about ills of Islamism (Islamic theocracy) and solutions that can be found in Americanism’

A liberty-minded American Muslim is slated to speak April 2 at Duke University on the “ills of Islamism,” and the Muslim Students Association there is furious about it, saying the speaker’s words will “harm us” and “makes students on this campus unsafe.”

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a medical doctor, is founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which describes itself as “a think tank dedicated to protecting American national security against the global threat of Islamism.” Jasser is also author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith,” as well as founder of Take Back Islam and co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement.

Jasser’s talk has generated heated protest from Duke’s Muslim Students Association, which has denounced the Muslim reformer and his planned speech. So intense is the controversy surrounding this event that the Alexander Hamilton Society had revoked its sponsorship and the remaining sponsors — the Duke Political Union, College Republicans and Young Americans for Liberty — renamed the talk from “The American Muslim Identity: Patriot or Insurgent” to simply “The American Muslim Identity,” the Duke Chronicle reports.

While protesters claim their safety is at risk due to the talk, in fact it is the Duke College Republicans who stated the event needed to be relocated due to safety concerns.

“Per the direction of Duke Police, the event has been moved to the Devil’s Den to ensure the safety of guests and speakers. The event is open to all Duke community members with a DukeCard and select guests. We look forward to an engaging and civil conversation,” the College Republicans posted on Facebook on March 30. The talk is slated for 6:30 p.m. April 2.

MORE: ‘Safe space’ room debuts at Duke University

An open letter March 29 by the Duke Muslim Students Association states: “The sponsored speaker, Zuhdi Jasser, treats all Muslims as potential would-be terrorists when he supports discriminatory surveillance against American Muslim communities by the American government. Jasser has claimed that ‘President Trump’s travel ban will prevent Islamic extremism from entering the U.S.’ He has a history of attacking those Muslims who disagree with him as being ‘supporters of violence,’ including our own Professor Omid Safi.”

“Not only are his claims morally disgusting, but his policy positions have been proven harmful over and over again,” the letter added. “While Zuhdi Jasser may claim to speak for us, his words only harm us. He does NOT speak for us.”

The letter also chastised the political science department for daring to advertise the event, and rejected professors’ explanation that their motivation was to host “difficult conversations.”

“The real ‘difficult conversation’ here is how Islamophobic and racist political speech supported by professors makes students on this campus unsafe,” the Duke Muslim Students Association stated.

The association has organized a counter protest, a “Teach In Against Islamophobia and Racism,” to be held outside the Jasser event, the Duke Chronicle reports.

Jasser, meanwhile, has responded to the Duke Muslim Students Association with an open letter of his own, headlined “The Mere Suggestion of Islamism Triggers Islamists.” (Islamism is defined as “Islamic militancy or fundamentalism.”)

The lengthy letter states in part:

… The mere title of my talk, the mere suggestion of a talk on Islamism juxtaposing the idea of a “salafi-jihadi insurgency” with American patriotism triggered the Duke Muslim Students Association. Apparently, it was, wait for it … the word insurgent that triggered them? Yet, the MSA’s across the nation are triggered even when I debate other Muslim organizations, when I’m appointed to a US Commission, and any time our ideas get a seat at the table they monopolize. They are predictably exercised over the term Islamism, terrorism and jihad among many others which acknowledge central ideas that need to be honestly targeted for reform. Their response should make any professor who wants their students to engage in critical thinking chagrined.

They reposted ad hominem Washington D.C. Islamist lobby talking points with not one iota of actual substantive analysis or evaluation of any of my previous speeches, commentary, books or book chapters, or multiple submissions of congressional testimony. The promoters of ‘agitprop’ who claim to represent Muslim students at Duke University were then followed by an unsigned editorial from the Duke Chronicle which continued the temper tantrum over a Muslim led conversation about ills of Islamism (Islamic theocracy) and solutions that can be found in Americanism (See my speech in Philadelphia on Americanisim vs Islamisim as an example).

The MSA’s bullying behavior got to the point where the Alexander Hamilton Society, an original sponsor of the event withdrew its support and posted apologies. It stands as no small irony that Alexander Hamilton was a founding father and an author of our Constitution and nation founded upon a revolution against theocracy and for liberty—the very central mission of all of our work at AIFD against Islamism (theocracy). Imagine Alexander Hamilton apologizing to a student association of the Church of England about making Christians feel targeted? …

The Hamilton society’s president told the Duke Chronicle that “We decided to rescind our involvement because we intended for the event to provide insightful, political discourse that relates to foreign policy—we realized that some students in the Muslim community felt that the event was demoralizing or demeaning to their culture or religion. We want to cosponsor events that facilitate discussion, yet in an environment where no student feels targeted.”

MORE: Duke to use bell tower for ‘amplified’ Islamic call to prayer

MORE: There is something seriously wrong at Duke University

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. She previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for a decade in Southern California, and prior to that held editorial positions at The Weekly Standard, Washington Times and FrontPageMagazine. She is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipient and has contributed to National Review.

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