The Pennsylvania State University Muslim Students Association (PSU-MSA) was founded in February 1964 by four students (who were natives of Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and Indonesia) “with a vision to create a haven for Muslims on campus and to spread awareness and tolerance for Islam.” Today the Penn State student body includes more than 1,000 Muslims, many of whom are MSA members.
PSU-MSA’s mission is “to realize [sic] Islam through words, actions, and intentions to Muslims and non-Muslims on the Penn State campus and in the society at large for the love of God.” In 2006 the organization was the recipient of the Paul Robeson Award -- named after the longtime dedicated Stalinist -- for its “commitment to creating a climate of racial harmony and social justice at Penn State.”
In October 2007, PSU-MSA organized a “Peace Not Prejudice” seminar series to counter the Terrorism Awareness Project’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW) activities which were scheduled for that same month; the purpose of the latter was to educate American college students about the nature of the fanatical religious movement aiming to create a global Muslim empire. But PSU-MSA falsely depicted IFAW as an “offensive” and “inappropriate” exercise in anti-Muslim bigotry, a campaign that “label[ed] an entire religion as fascist,” and an attempt to “agitate and provoke students and community groups” by “promot[ing] hatred and division.” Complaining that IFAW would give a forum to “controversial speakers” who “would likely stir hostility and division among students and student groups,” PSU-MSA claimed that any discussion centered on the term “Islamo-fascism” was unacceptable because it “trespasses the frontiers of freedom of speech that is bounded by the infringement of other people’s rights with respect to freedom of belief and falsified attack on their personal integrity.”
At once embracing and rejecting the concept of free speech rights, PSU-MSA stated: “We believe Penn State University, as an institution of learning, should provide an opportunity for all to express opinions in a safe and rational way. We fear, however, that this Islamophobic program [IFAW] will have hazardous consequences on the Penn State community. It is important to distinguish between freedom of speech and hate speech.”
Meanwhile, the featured speakers at PSU-MSA’s “Peace Not Prejudice” campaign included the following individuals:
Dr. Mehdi Noorbaksh: In its publicity for Noorbaksh’s appearance, PSU-MSA described him as an “Associate Professor of International Affairs at Harrisburg University” who has “published extensively on the Middle East politics.” But the organization made no mention of the fact that Noorbaksh had criticized the “cultural insensitivity” that supposedly led a Danish newspaper in 2005 to publish some cartoons lampooning the Muslim Prophet Muhammad -- cartoons which set off raging protests and violent riots throughout the Muslim world; nor that Noorbaksh had accused the offending newspaper of practicing “selective targeting” against “the very sanctity of the Muslim faith”; nor that he flatly rejects the Western notion that freedom of speech should be protected even in cases where someone might exhibit what is perceived to be insufficient “respect for [the] belief held by 1.2 billion [Muslim] followers.”
Lawrence Davidson: This associate professor of history at West Chester University in Pennsylvania characterizes Israel as an “indecent” and “racist” state guilty of massive human-rights violations against the Palestinian people; likens Israel's “tactics” to “the behaviors of both pogroms and concentration camps”; denounces the Jewish state for pursuing a “blatantly criminal” campaign of “collective punishment”; accuses Zionists of having “purposely molded” for themselves a “discriminatory society” that practices “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians; depicts Israel as a “purveyor of state terrorism”; and praises Hamas for the "charitable work" it does.
Sheikh Khalid Yasin: This U.S.-born Muslim convert has candidly stated that “if you don’t have a people that is governed by Sharia, then you have a lawless people”; that Sharia should become the law of the land in all nations because Allah “is the best lawgiver”; that “[t]here's no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend; that "[t]here has been no evidence that has surfaced ... that showed that there is a group called al-Qaeda that did the September 11 bombings” (he said this in July 2005); that “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”; and that homosexuals should be killed because the Koran mandates it. Yasin spoke at PSU-MSA on October 11, 2006.
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