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Peace Not Prejudice: A Presentation of the Muslim Student Association
(Pennsylvania State University)
October 2007

From October 24th through the 30th, 2007, Penn State University hosted an event titled “Peace Not Prejudice.” Sponsored by the Penn State Muslim Students Association, this event was designed to counter the “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” presentations sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center to address the dangers of radical Islam. The featured speakers at the “Peace Not Prejudice” forum included the following professors, scholars, and activists:

Sheikh Khalid Yasin

Sheikh Khalid Yasin is a U.S.-born Muslim convert and a Malcolm X disciple who has been a popular guest speaker at Muslim Students Association (MSA) events on college campuses across the United States, and has lectured with Omar Bakri Mohammed (the founder of Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun), a pro-al Qaeda cleric who in 2006 was banned from the United Kingdom because of his religious extremism.

Yasin's public pronouncements – at speaking engagements and on DVDs he has produced – include the following:

  • Sharia [Islamic Law] should become the law of the land in all nations because Allah "is the best lawgiver."
  • "There's no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend."
  • "There has been no evidence that has surfaced, no bona fide irrevocable, irrefutable evidence that had been surfaced that showed that there is a group called al-Qaeda that did the September 11 bombings." (He said this in July 2005.)
  • 9/11 was "an operation that took place with the complicity of some very sophisticated entities other than some Middle Eastern guys on an airplane, or [something] being orchestrated by someone in a cave in Iraq."
  • "We now know" that the World Trade Center fell not as a result of the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers, but rather "from internal explosive charges, the same way it's done in a construction site."
  • Homosexuals should be killed because the Koran mandates it -- "We don't make any excuses about that; it's not our law, it's the Koran."
  • AIDS was invented at a U.S. government lab and spread by Western governments through United Nations agencies and Christian missionaries.
  • The 2002 and 2005 terrorist bombings in Bali were justifiable responses to years of Western oppression.
  • "This whole delusion about the equality of women is a bunch of foolishness, there's no such thing."
  • The Koran permits wife-beating.
  • "We don't need to go to the Christians, or the Jews, debating with them about the filth which they believe … We Muslims have been ordered to do 'brainwashing' because the kuffaar [unbelievers] … they are doing 'brain-defiling.'"

On September 11, 2001, Yasin was in Saudi Arabia soliciting the support of an al Qaeda front known as the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation – which eventually would be designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government – to help finance the creation of his proposed "Islamic Broadcasting Company" (IBC).

Raeed N. Tayeh

An American-born Palestinian activist, Raeed N. Tayeh was formerly an Executive Board member of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and a research fellow for the United Association for Studies and Research. He also has had connections to American Muslims for Jerusalem.

On November 29, 1999, Tayeh
wrote that “Islamists refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel or the peace agreement made with it, and vow to return the Holy Land to the Muslim nation.” He also praised Issa Nakhleh as “a distinguished Palestinian Christian historian.” Previously, Nakhleh had called Yasser Arafat “an honorable Palestinian leader”; had called Ariel Sharon “an irresponsible terrorist, murderer and war criminal”; and had excused suicide bombings as understandable responses to “Israeli crimes.”

In his poem titled “
Who Am I?” -- which originally appeared on the IAP website -- Tayeh says, "Oh how I dream of that wonderful day, when our flags are raised, and when the marching bands will play. When the young will cheer, and when the old will cry. When the refugees return, and when Zionism will die."

On April 7, 2001, while he was still with the IAP, Tayeh
was a featured speaker at a rally in New York City that included Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leaders Sami Al-Arian and Mazen Al-Najjar. The rally also featured a statement by George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Since September 2002, Tayeh has worked as the Public Affairs Director for the Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation. On April 26, 2003, Tayeh gave an MAS-sponsored “
activist training seminar” with the organization’s Communications Director, Randal Todd “Ismail” Royer, who would later be sentenced to prison on firearms and conspiracy charges in relation to a group associated with al Qaeda.

2003 annual convention was co-sponsored by the Islamic Circle of North America. Tayeh was a featured speaker at this event, along with: Mustafa Abu Sway, who the Israeli government has labeled “a known activist” in the Hamas terrorist movement; Siraj Wahhaj, who was named as a possible co-conspirator to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; Zulfiqar Ali Shah, CEO of the Universal Heritage Foundation; and the neo-Nazi William Baker.

Lawrence Davidson

A Professor of History at West Chester University, Lawrence Davidson 
advocates divestment from Israel, a cause he likens to the campaign that ultimately pressured South Africa to abolish apartheid. He believes that Israel is, in the final analysis, responsible for Palestinian terrorism because “[t]he Israelis see their situation in terms of a … closed information environment … [and] have adhered to a mythologized and self-centered interpretation of events.” Though the Israeli government permits far more freedom of speech than any other nation in the Middle East, Davidson contends that Israeli society is under the sway of a massive, orchestrated, Nazi-like propaganda machine. He admonishes the U.S. for being similarly blind to how it antagonizes Muslims worldwide, and thus for failing to understand its own role in provoking the 9/11 attacks.

In October 2003, Davidson delivered a 
lecture to the Middle East Study Group of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, wherein he characterized Palestinian terrorism as the inevitable and logical outgrowth of Israeli depredations. He portrayed Israeli security efforts as “pure, mean harassment” whose underlying objective was “to make life as miserable as possible” for Palestinians. Minimizing the historical reality of repeated and persistent Arab aggression against Israel, he summed up Israel’s fight for independence thusly: “Zionists waged war against poorly armed and trained Arab nations.”

In January 2009, Davidson penned a 
CounterPunch article about the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. In that piece, he stated: “Ever since Israel's withdrawal of its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 it has slowly turned that territory [Gaza] into a besieged ghetto.” He complained that Israel’s current airstrikes were “the beginning” of a deadly “plan to destroy Hamas” – an operation that would likely trigger “a renewal of suicide attacks in their [Israeli] cities.” He lamented that a damaged Hamas would lose its “ability to do its charitable work and carry on resistence” [sic]. And he charged that “modern Israeli leaders have regularly broken their word … ever since the first Camp David efforts of 1978”; that Israel inflicts, upon the Palestinians, all manner of brutal “tactics that combin[e] the behaviors of both pogroms and concentration camps”; and that Israel has been “concentrating, impoverishing, and brutalizing Palestinians both as individuals and as a group for decades.”

Mehdi Noorbaksh

Mehdi Noorbaksh is an Associate Professor of International Affairs and Coordinator of General Education and Humanities at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. According to his biographical sketch, Noorbaksh’ areas of specialization include: “International Politics, Global Energy, Global Health, Middle East Politics with concentration on Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Arab-Israeli Conflict, Islam, Nationalism and Democratic Movements and Processes in the Middle East.”

In April 2003, Noorbaksh penned a piece for the Lebanese news service Lebanonwire, condemning the U.S. invasion of Iraq and American Mideast policies generally:

“The U.S. did not give peace and diplomacy a chance. Instead, Washington intended from the onset to wage its war against Iraq…. The only way to vision [sic] a future for the Middle East, independent from the delusion of the neoconservatives in America, is to change the domestic politics, reorganize the economy, and establish the foundation of a new foreign policy in the countries of the region.”

In September 2007, Noorbaksh took offense to Columbia University president Lee Bollinger’s characterization of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a Columbia forum where the latter was a guest speaker. Bollinger opened the program by calling Ahmadinejad a “petty and cruel dictator,” and condemning his repeated calls for the destruction of Israel. In the aftermath of the event, Noorbaksh wrote: “We all know who Ahmadinejad is and what his capabilities are. But where was the courtesy? If Mr. Bollinger knew a bit about the Iranian culture and custom of hospitality, he would have acted differently.”

Ingrid Mattson

Ingrid Mattson is the President of the
Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA) United States office. In a talk she delivered at a 2000 ISNA Conference in Canada, Mattson lauded the work of Islamic revivalist and jihadist Maulana Abul A'la Maududi, an author who had written, approvingly, in his 1980 book Jihad in Islam:

“Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it … Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single State or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution.”

At an October 2001 open forum sponsored by CNN, Mattson was asked by a participant to comment on Wahhabism, an extreme, intolerant form of Islam with close ties to Saudi Arabia and Islamic terrorism. Mattson responded:

“No, it's not true to characterize Wahhabism that way. This is not a sect. It is the name of a reform movement that began 200 years ago to rid Islamic societies of cultural practices and rigid interpretation that had acquired over the centuries. It really was analogous to the European Protestant Reformation…. [T]he Saudi scholars who are Wahhabi have denounced terrorism and denounced in particular the acts of September 11.”

In 2002 Mattson authored a chapter, titled "Stopping Oppression: an Islamic Obligation," in the book September 11: Religious Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences. She wrote:

"… Muslims perceive that Israeli aggression against Palestinians continues without American sanction; indeed, enormous financial and military support for Israel has continued. It seems that any Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation is termed 'terrorism,' and is responded to with overwhelming force. The result is the Palestinians themselves are increasingly showing less restraint in the force they employ to defend their families and lands."

Mattson went on to condemn American foreign policy as a force of evil not only in the Middle East, but all over the world:

"The American government has not criticized sufficiently the brutality of the Israeli government, believing that it needs to be 'supportive' of the Jewish state. The result is that oppression, left unchecked, can increase to immense proportions, until the oppressed are smothered with hopelessness and rage."

In a September 2002 interview with PBS, Mattson stated that she did not see "any difference" between Christian leaders criticizing Islam or al Qaeda on the one hand, and Osama bin Laden citing "Islamic theology to justify violence against Americans" on the other.

At the opening of ISNA's 43rd annual convention in 2006, Mattson expressed her dismay that the phrase "Islamic terrorism" had gained such wide popular currency. "I'm convinced that it is not only inaccurate, but unhelpful," Mattson 
said, suggesting that U.S.officials should simply refer to "terrorism, crime, [or] violence," with no mention of any religious connection.

In a 2007 interview with the Baltimore Sun, Mattson 
complained that Americans were unduly judgmental of Muslims generally, and that their fear of Islamic terrorism had been blown out of all proportion: "There's a prejudgment, a collective judgment of Muslims, and a suspicion that, well, 'you may appear nice, but we know there are sleeper cells of Americans,' which of course is not true. There aren't any sleeper cells."

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