The BU incident may cast a pall on future events for both women, as Muslim advocates on college campuses appear to be emboldened while faculties and fellow students are intimated into remaining silent. That development is an ominous one, as it vitally affects the exercise of free speech as guaranteed under our Constitution’s First Amendment.
by Jerry Gordon, The Iconoclast, November 3, 2009
Two colleagues and co-founders of Former Muslims United, Nonie Darwish and Dr. Wafa Sultan were in Boston within 24 hours of each other. They both confronted threats to their security. Both went on to make their presentations, despite daunting intimidation and security arrangements that confront apostates from Islam who speak out at universities and communities in America.
Last night, prior to Nonie Darwish’s scheduled speech at a CAMERA Campus event at Boston University, a suspicious fire broke out in women’s rest room on the second floor of the Boston University (BU) College of Arts and Sciences, not far from the room in which Darwish was going to speak. The BU Student newspaper, The Daily Free Press had this report, “CAS evacuated after bathroom fire -Boston Fire Dept. suspects vandalism“:
Two Boston Fire Department trucks and four Boston University police cars responded to a fire Wednesday night in the women’s bathroom on the second floor of the College of Arts and Sciences.
BFD received the call around 6:45 p.m. and had extinguished the fire at about 7:15 p.m., officials said. CAS was evacuated and occupants could not reenter until officials had ensured the air quality was safe.
BFD spokesman Steve MacDonald said they suspect the cause of the fire was vandalism. An individual must have ignited a roll of paper towels, which then fell off the dispenser and rolled, scorching both the floor and wall—though it still under investigation by the arson squad, officials said.
When I spoke with Darwish last night, she said that as they were approaching the College of Arts and Sciences Building, the original site of last night’s program they notice the fire apparatus. They were told by BU police at the scene that the building was closed and evacuated. Her CAMERA Campus talk was displaced to Hillel House also on the BU Campus, where she spoke to a limited audience.
Darwish remarked that during the past several months she had experienced the worst treatment in endeavoring to speak on college campuses since she started doing that in the wake of 9/11. She noted the disruptive Muslim Students at the University of Seattle, as well as, the recent cancellation of speaking engagements at two Ivy League schools, Princeton and Columbia.
The University of Seattle event was harrowing. Darwish’s talk was disrupted by a group of Muslim students lead by a faculty member, a Palestinian from Jordan, who accused her of insulting Muslims. Darwish soldiered on despite the accusations. After the talk she was approached by several Muslim students from Egypt, Palestine, the Sudan and Saudi Arabia, who thanked her for coming to speak and argued with fellow Muslim students, that their antics confirmed what she was talking about-invasion of free speech rights here in America.
Darwish noted that these events at university campuses where she had been scheduled to speak are particularly troubling as they all occurred after the mass shooting event by Major Nidal Hasan. Muslim student opponent s of her appearances may have been emboldened committed by Major Hasan’s Jihad at Fort Hood.
That is why the suspicious fire at B.U. last night is questionable. If the allegations are proven it marks a new phase in intimidation to shut down events by apostates like Darwish, Sultan and other critics of Islam.
On Monday, November 30th, a New York Daily News editorial, “Gagged by the Ivies: Columbia and Princeton won’t let woman critical of Islam speak,” discussed Darwish:
So much for the vigorous exchange of ideas, however controversial, at even the finest of American universities. The concept doesn’t apply to Nonie Darwish, a commentator and advocate who espouses strong views on Islam.
An Arab woman, Darwish was raised in Egypt as a Muslim. Thirty years ago, as an adult, she moved to the U.S. and converted to Christianity. She has published several books – you can get the flavor of her thinking from the title of her latest work: “Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law.”
The other week, Darwish was scheduled to speak at both Princeton and Columbia universities. Both events were abruptly canceled.
We understand from Darwish that the New York Post and the New York Jewish Week will also be running columns on what transpired at both Ivy League campuses. At least these mainstream general and American Jewish newspapers are getting the message about what is happening to free speech.
Another courageous woman and critic of Islam, Dr. Wafa Sultan, was in Boston for a series of radio talk show interviews and an appearance at the synagogue of Rabbi Jon Hausman, Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts. Hausman made history by being the first American rabbi to sponsor a talk by controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders in the US.
Wilders gave him the title of ‘warrior rabbi’, which has since become his moniker.
I talked with Hausman this afternoon about the Darwish event of last night. He extended an open invitation for Darwish to speak at his synagogue. Hausman explained that neither he nor his congregation take security of speakers like Sultan or Darwish lightly. “It’s the first thing on our list of to-dos,” to make sure that these signature events come off. Hausman said they do multiple sweeps and lockdowns of the facility. Personal security is provided from portal to portal from the time they arrive at Boston’s Logan Airport until their departure. There will be a compliment of local police, both uniformed and plainclothes personnel, inside the social hall, conducting screenings, augmented by former Army and Marine specialists in counterterrorism.
Notwithstanding this, Dr. Sultan asked Rabbi Hausman if her talk tonight caused any disruptions. Rabbi Hausman told her there had been emails accusing her of being a bigot, un-American and requesting that the synagogue cancel her appearance. Hausman said: “we act accordingly. We simply make sure that the speaker has security to speak freely.”
Hausman has learned from experience how to deal with audience members who are disruptive during events sponsored by his synagogue. After an appearance by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., founder and President of the Center for Security Policy when a disruptive audience member was ejected, his synagogue put up a sign at the entrance of the synagogue social hall saying: “no disruptive behavior will be tolerated; such people will be escorted off the property.”
Both Darwish and Sultan are accomplished speakers. Darwish is one of the more effective speakers on college campuses primarily because she doesn’t engage in ad hominem attacks instead focusing on criticizing Sharia and Jihad doctrine. Sultan is a fearless critic of Islam and the environment of subjugation it has created for Muslim women.
The BU incident may cast a pall on future events for both women, as Muslim advocates on college campuses appear to be emboldened while faculties and fellow students are intimated into remaining silent. That development is an ominous one, as it vitally affects the exercise of free speech as guaranteed under our Constitution’s First Amendment. However, conscious security arrangements like those provided for Gaffney, Wilders and Sultan at the Stoughton events are exemplary of what one has to do to assure civil discourse in an open forum.