The Muslim Students Association‘s University of California at Los Angeles chapter (MSA UCLA) describes itself as “a cultural, social, political, and philanthropic vehicle” that was formed “to meet the specific needs of the underrepresented Muslim community on campus and create a sense of unity while developing Muslims to be leaders within the community.” Toward this end, the organization seeks to “dispel harmful myths” about the Islamic faith and thereby “build bridges with other communities.”
To educate students on issues of social import, MSA UCLA has organized such events as teach-ins promoting affirmative action or condemning Israel’s alleged abuse of the Palestinian people; screenings of independent documentaries on a variety of topics; and “Islamic Awareness Week” (IAW) festivities that aim to “promot[e] cultural diversity and chang[e] social perceptions about Islam.” A theme which IAWs commonly revisit is that the term “jihad,” by its “true meaning,” signifies “personal struggle” rather than “holy war” in any militaristic sense. Another recurring theme is the notion that Islam is very respectful of women and grants them many rights and privileges. (Both of these IAW contentions, however, are untrue.)
MSA UCLA also sponsors a wide variety of programs such as halaqas (religious gatherings designed to teach Islamic theology), Qur’an competitions, and lectures by prominent Muslim figures. In some cases, the organization plans or co-sponsors events in conjunction with other members of a nine-group coalition that includes the Afrikan Student Union (whose founding ideology was shaped by the Black Panther movement and the race riots that engulfed the Greater Los Angeles Area in the 1960s), and MEChA.
On August 27, 1999, MSA UCLA collaborated with such groups as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council to sponsor a “Protest Against the Use of Secret Evidence” in federal terrorism investigations. Among the speakers at this Los Angeles event were Hussam Ayloush of CAIR-Southern California, and Abdul-Alim Musa, who wishes to see Islam “dominate” all other faiths.
On May 3, 2000, MSA UCLA and CAIR co-sponsored a protest against an Israeli Independence celebration at the Hollywood Palladium.
When the Staples Center in Los Angeles served as the site of the Democratic National Convention on August 17, 2000, Ghaith Mahmoud of MSA UCLA spoke at a rally just outside the stadium, protesting America’s participation in the United Nations sanctions against Iraq. The demonstrators chanted slogans denouncing presidential candidates Al Gore (for allegedly having helped Bill Clinton perpetrate genocide via the Iraq sanctions) and George W. Bush (for having overseen the “racist” executions of convicted murderers in Texas).
On October 22, 2000 at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, MSA UCLA members Arif Shaikh and Ahmed Shama (who at that time was president of the organization) headed a demonstration protesting “Israeli aggression” against the Palestinians. Asserting that only “justice by Islamic means” could counteract “Israeli apartheid,” Shama condemned “racist Zionists” and led the crowd in shouts of: “Victory to Islam!”; “Death to the Jews!”; and “Death to Israel!” Shama also burned an Israeli flag while the crowd chanted, “Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the army of Mohammed is coming for you” — a historical reference to the 7th-century Battle of Khaybar in which the Prophet Mohammed and his Muslim army routed the Jewish population.
Another featured speaker at the October 22 rally, MSA West president Sohail Shakry, quoted the following words of Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah: “If we look at the situation the past 52 years, the biggest impediment to peace has been the existence of the Zionist State of Israel. Since the existence of this state, we have had wars, conflicts, killings, massacres. If we really want true peace then we must see that it goes with the elimination of the Zionist entity in the middle of the Muslim world.”
A third speaker was CAIR-Southern California member Hussam Ayloush, who complained about Israel’s “racist” practices and the many American “tax dollars [that were being] used to kill the innocents of Palestine.” Urging those in attendance to do whatever they could to help Palestinian “victims and orphans,” Ayloush implored his listeners to support the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) — a pseudo-charity which in December 2001 would be shut down by the U.S. government because of its financial ties to Hamas.
On January 21, 2001, MSA UCLA sponsored an event titled “Shaping Our Perspective: Our Role in a Changing World.” Guest speaker Abdul-Alim Musa predicted that just as the Soviet Union had already collapsed, “Old [Uncle] Sam is next.” Hatem Bazian, an outspoken anti-Zionist, also spoke at this event.
In April 2001, MSA UCLA hosted the MSA West annual conference, which featured guest speaker Muhammad al-Asi, an anti-Semitic Shiite cleric. In his remarks, al-Asi accused Jews of “racism,” “discrimination,” and “oppression.” He characterized Israel as a “fascist” state that was “as racist as Apartheid could ever be.” And he derided the “psychosis in the Jewish community that is unable to co-exist equally and brotherly [sic] with other human beings.”
In May 2001, MSA UCLA co-sponsored a conference called “The Israeli Palestinian Crisis: New Conversations for a Pluralist Future.” Among the other organizations participating in this event, where Israel was smeared as a terrorist state and a practitioner of racist apartheid, were CAIR and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Guest speaker Salam al-Marayati denounced America’s financial and military aid to Israel. CAIR member Abdel Karim equated Zionism with South African apartheid. Professor Rashid Khalidi defended the then-raging Palestinian Intifada. And California State Polytechnic University professor Mahmoud Ibrahim likened the actions of the Israeli army to those of the Nazis during the Holocaust.
At an Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC) meeting in May 2001, MSA UCLA proposed a resolution requesting that USAC not only “condemn the institutionalized discrimination and oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli government”, but also “condemn political Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination.”
On September 9, 2001, MSA UCLA co-sponsored (with UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union) a benefit dinner titled “Justice for Imam Jamil Al-Amin,” in honor of the former Sixties radical (previously known as H. Rap Brown) who had recently been arrested for the murder of a police officer. A featured speaker at this event was Abdul-Alim Musa, who accused America of practicing “apartheid” and “Nazism,” and characterized the U.S. as “the most skillful oppressor that the world has ever known.” Another featured speaker was the anti-Semite Hamza Yusuf, who claimed that because America had been “ungrateful for the bounties of Allah,” the nation “[stood] condemned” and would soon face “a very terrible fate.”
On March 24, 2002, shortly after Al-Amin had been convicted of the murder charge against him, MSA UCLA co-sponsored yet another event in his support, claiming that there were “many facts pointing to [his] innocence.”
In May 2002, MSA UCLA sponsored “Palestinian Freedom Week,” which featured the aforementioned Hussam Ayloush of CAIR-Couthern California as one of its key speakers.
At the Seventh Annual MSA West Conference held at the University of Southern California in January 2005, former MSA UCLA member Ahmed Shama said:
“We want to restore Islam to the leadership of society. … In short, we want to make the word of Allah supreme in every single aspect of life. … The end goal of everything that we’re talking about is the reestablishment of the Islamic form of government. … We have an obligation to make sure that our MSAs are part of the global Islamic movement.”
In May 2006, MSA UCLA co-sponsored — along with MEChA de UCLA, the Raza Graduate Student Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the United Arab Society — a week-long series of events called “Israel and Palestine: Obstacles to Peace.” A key presenter was the Holocaust-denying professor Norman Finkelstein (of DePaul University), who impugned Israel for its depiction of Palestinian suicide bombers as terrorists and asserted that the real terrorists were Israeli soldiers who had killed Arab civilians.
In May 2011, the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association unanimously passed an MSA UCLA-proposed resolution declaring that “UCLA is a UC Campus Against Islamophobia.” MSA UCLA defined the concept of “Islamophobia” as:
“ideologies, beliefs, and actions that perpetuate inaccurate and xenophobic views toward the culture and practice of Islam and the personification of its followers, such as being seen as monolithic, seen as a separate and ‘other’ culture that does not share common values, seen as inferior to the West, seen as violent, aggressive, and supportive of terrorism, seen as sexist and oppressive of women, seen as a political ideology used for political advantage, anti-Muslim hostility, and exclusionary or discriminatory practices against Muslims from mainstream society.”
MSA UCLA’s news-and-opinion magazine, Al-Talib, serves as a major conduit for the dissemination of the organization’s anti-Semitic, anti-Israel views.