- Campus organization of Muslim students
- Opposed Hillel’s invitation of pro-Israel speaker Nonie Darwish to address Brown’s student body in 2006
- Condemns “Zionist imperialism”
- Laments Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israeli “aggression”
- Characterizes Israel’s anti-terrorism barrier as an “apartheid wall”
Founded in 1989 “to meet the social, spiritual, cultural, and intellectual needs of Muslim students” on campus, the Brown University Muslim Students Association (BMSA) seeks to “help build understanding” of Islam by means of halaqas (gatherings designed to teach theology), open lectures, inter-faith discussions, prayer services, and iftar dinners.
BMSA has participated numerous times — along with more than 250 fellow Muslim organizations (mostly chapters of the MSA) — in an annual, nationwide “Ramadan Fast-a-Thon,” where students eat nothing from sunrise to sundown on one designated day each year. The purpose of this event — which was initiated shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — is twofold: to “raise money for the hungry and poor,” and to help Americans “increase” their “understanding” of Muslims’ good intentions. Such notables as Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, Sheikh Abdullah Idris Ali, Imam Zaid Shakir, and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf have endorsed the Fast-a-Thon.
In late November 2006, Brown’s campus Jewish organization, Hillel, invited Nonie Darwish — an Egyptian-born, Gaza-raised Muslim convert to Christianity — to give a lecture in defense of Israel and its excellent human rights record, relative to that of the Islamic world. Repulsed by the jihadist message prevalent in mosques worldwide, Darwish founded the organization Arabs for Israel, which pledges “respect and support the State of Israel,” rejects “suicide/homicide terrorism as a form of Jihad,” and encourages “constructive self-criticism and reform” in the Islamic world. When Hillel announced its decision to invite Darwish to speak, BMSA, which has often condemned what it terms “Zionist imperialism,” promptly demanded that the invitation be rescinded on grounds that Darwish was “too controversial.” Hillel, citing a “desire to maintain constructive relationships” with the Muslim Students Association, complied.
Also in 2006, BMSA organized a “Palestinian Solidarity Week” — sponsored by the parents of the late Rachel Corrie — which featured exhibits of posters and pictures depicting Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israeli “aggression.” The event also featured an “apartheid” wall on the campus’ Main Green to protest Israel’s recent construction of a security barrier in the West Bank — which BMSA characterized as an assault on Palestinian human rights.
BMSA designated March 2007 as “Islam Awareness Month” (IAM), whose aim was to educate students about Islamic traditions and beliefs while dispelling negative stereotypes about the Muslim faith. A featured presentation of IAM was given by Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. In the past, Al-Marayati had publicly accused Israelis of carrying out the 9/11 attacks; had called for the U.S. government to unfreeze the assets of two terrorism-funding Islamic charities, the Global Relief Foundation and the Holy Land Foundation; had refused to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group; and had justified Hamas‘ existence as a political entity by asserting that it promoted social programs and “educational operations.”
Another presentation during BMSA’s Islamic Awareness Month was a screening of the documentary film, The Road to Guantanamo: How Far Will We Go in the Name of Security? As the BMSA website noted, this production maintained that the Guantanamo Bay detention center was stocked with many innocent Muslims who had been apprehended without cause by U.S. military personnel. A related presentation, titled “Guantanamo Exposed,” was given by Captain James Yee, a former U.S. Army chaplain who was once suspected of espionage (though the charges against him were later dropped). According to Yee, most of the detainees at Guantanamo were either wholly innocent of any terrorism-related charges or, at worst, were low-level foot soldiers incapable of providing American intelligence officials with any significant information. “The people down in Guantanamo probably know as much about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda as any private in the military would know what’s going on inside the Pentagon,” said Yee.
The IAM festivities also featured “Women in Islam: Respect or Repression?” — a talk given by Hadia Mubarak, a Council on American-Islamic Relations national board member and a former president of MSA National. Among Mubarek’s notable previous actions were the following:
- In the aftermath of 9/11, she derided Americans for allegedly carrying out large numbers of “random hate crimes” against innocent Muslims, whose faith had been unjustifiably “put on trial.”
- In March 2004 she was the contact for the “Rachel Corrie Day of Remembrance,” a Washington, DC event sponsored by the anti-Israel group, End the Occupation.
- In September 2004 she exhorted all North American MSA chapters to demand the reinstatement of Tariq Ramadan‘s visa to the United States, which had been revoked by the U.S. government because of his connections to Islamic terrorism.
- In July 2006 she called America a land of “religious bigotry,” “hatred,” and “intolerance” — a place where Muslims are “the closest targets for bigots and extremists.”
- In July 2007 she accused the United States of having “unjustly invaded [the] sovereign country” of Iraq.
In addition, BMSA’s Islamic Awareness Month sponsored a seminar titled “Under Muslim Rule: A Palestinian Christian’s Perspective. The presenter, Al-Awda founder Mazin Qumsiyeh, has served as a guest speaker for Wheels of Justice and has characterized Israel as an apartheid state.