Monday, April 07, 2008

Muslim Student Union

The Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine

By | 4/3/2008

The Muslim Student Union (MSU) at the University of California - Irvine (UCI) was founded in 1992 by a group of Muslim students who said they wanted “to establish a presence on campus.” Today MSU seeks to “build an environment that enhances good, discourages bad, and provides networks of resources, knowledge, people, and companionship to its members.” Toward these ends, MSU offers “daily congregational prayers, daily free iftars the evening meal for breaking the daily fast during Ramadan that serve over a hundred Muslims, over eight weekly classes, a quarterly magazine Alkalima, coalition building with other clubs on campus, and a gateway to the larger Muslim community …” MSU also provides career advice and a study/tutoring program to help Muslims at UCI.

Yet beneath this placid description of the group’s objectives is a seething hatred of Jews and Israel. At the organization’s on-campus events, its members commonly wear green armbands to signal their allegiance to the terrorist group Hamas. MSU also has displayed posters on the UCI campus that equate the Star of David with the Nazi Swastika.

In February 2001, MSU hosted the radical cleric Imam Muhammad al-Asi, who told his UCI audience: “The Zionist-Israeli lobby ... is taking the United States government and the United States people to the abyss. We have a psychosis in the Jewish community that is unable to co-exist equally and brotherly with other human beings. You can take a Jew out of the ghetto, but you cannot take the ghetto out of the Jew.”

On February 26, 2004, MSU brought another radical cleric, the black imam Abdel Malik-Ali to the UCI campus to deliver a speech titled “America under Siege: The Zionist Hidden Agenda.” According to UCI’s student newspaper, he “implied that Zionism is a mixture of ‘chosen people-ness and white supremacy’; that the Iraqi war is in the process of ‘Israelization’; that the Zionists had the ‘Congress, the media and the FBI in their back pocket’; that the downfall of former Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean was due to the Zionists; and that the Mossad Israel’s intelligence agency would have assassinated Al Gore if he was elected in 2000 just to bring Joe Lieberman (his Jewish vice-president) to power.”

Later that spring, MSU and the Society of Arab Students (SAS) co-sponsored their fourth annual “Zionism Awareness Week,” during which members of both groups again wore green armbands to show their support for Hamas.

In June 2004, MSU asked UCI’s graduating Muslim students to wear green sashes bearing the word “shahada,” the Arabic word for the “martyrdom” of a suicide bomber, to their graduation ceremony. Two dozen students appeared in this garb.

In March 2006, MSU led 1,000 Muslim students to protest the public display of the “offensive” Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had recently set off massive demonstrations and riots throughout the Muslim world. In front of several television camera crews, MSU members began the protest by rolling out green prayer mats and reciting a prayer in Arabic. Many of them wore their customary green, pro-Hamas armbands. When a crowd of counter-protesters stood behind an American and Israeli flag and sang “God Bless America,” the Muslim students responded by chanting: “Hey Republicans Stop the Hate! All You Do Is Instigate,” and “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho! The Prophet’s Cartoons Have Got to Go!”

MSU organized a May 2006 “Holocaust in the Holy Land” event which consisted of four days of anti-Israel lectures and presentations portraying the Jewish State as the modern-day avatar of Nazi Germany. The keynote speaker for the event was the Holocaust-denier Norman Finkelstein, whose speech, titled “Obstacles to Peace: Israelis or Palestinians,” identified Israel as the world’s worst human rights violator. Adjacent to a mock Israeli “apartheid” wall which they had set up in the center of the UCI campus, MSU students wearing leather sandals and taqiyahs (skullcaps) distributed fliers bearing the title “Exploiting the Holocaust to Justify Genocide.”

Abdel Malik-Ali was again the featured speaker at an October 5, 2006 MSU event, where he told a crowd of roughly 200 cheering students: “They Jews think they are superman, but we, the Muslims, are kryptonite. They Jews know that their days are numbered.”

In May 2007, MSU held an “Israel: Apartheid Resurrected” week that featured twice-daily speeches and rallies condemning the State of Israel. On May 17, Abdel Malik-Ali delivered a lecture titled “UC Intifada: How you can help Palestine,” in which he informed UCI’s Muslim students (who again wore green armbands as well as T-shirts reading “UC Intifada” and “Freedom Fighter”) that a martyr’s death is the most honorable form of death. “Victory or martyrdom,” Malik-Ali asserted, are the only two viable options available to the Palestinians in their battle against Israel. Malik-Ali referred to Israel not by its name, but only as the “Zionist Apartheid State.”

In 2007, a UC Irvine student identifying herself as “OC Apostate” (she had recently left the Muslim faith in which she was raised) was forced to shut down the blog in which she criticized Islam’s intolerance for fear that members of the campus MSU would harm her family in retribution for her apostasy. She explained:

“I started a blog as way to express myself. Word finally got around that it was me who was writing it and my family got threats that if I didn’t shut up something might happen. I didn’t want them to suffer for something I had done. So I deleted everything. … They other Muslim students saw me with my hair out of the hijab. They knew who I was. The reaction was a lot of gossip and speculation about my upbringing. Women who I didn’t know gave me dirty looks. … I don’t underestimate them. … The notion of a traitor in your own community is the worse thing that could possibly happen. There is no room for ex-Muslims in a Muslim society. The punishment for being an apostate is death.”

MSU invited Yvonne Ridley, a reporter and activist for Iranian PRESS-TV, to speak at UC Irvine on November 12, 2007. Ridley, who also writes a column for the New York-based publication Daily Muslims, is a member of the Respect Party led by British Member of Parliament and former Saddam Hussein supporter George Galloway. She was formerly employed as a senior editor by Al Jazeera and helped launch that website’s English-language version in 2003.

Ridley supports divestment from Israel, a nation she has described as “that disgusting little watchdog of America that is festering in the Middle East.” She says that her Respect Party “is a Zionist-free party,” adding that “if there was any Zionists in the Respect Party they would be hunted down and kicked out. We have no time for Zionists.”

MSU’s ideology is expressed in journalism as well as radical actions on campus. The Muslim student newspaper, Alkalima, published a special report called “Zionism: The Forgotten Apartheid,” which glorified Hamas and Hezbollah as noble warriors fighting Israeli oppression.

In 2006 Alkalima published For Justice We Fight, a pamphlet justifying terrorist attacks targeting innocent civilians. “The individual or community that participates in jihad finds itself between two blissful outcomes,” said the pamphlet, “either victory and the establishment of justice, or the reward of martyrdom and Paradise.”

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