Source: Discover The Networks
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824
- Depicts Islam as a religion of peace and social justice
- Characterizes Muslim Americans as victims of widespread Islamophobia and discrimination
- Considers Israel one of the world’s foremost human rights violators
- Protested a Danish newspaper’s publication of a series of cartoons lampooning the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad
- Pressured Michigan State University to install foot baths in campus rest rooms, so that Muslim students could perform ritual foot cleansing before praying
The Muslim Students Association of Michigan State University (MSA MSU) is one of the more than 150 affiliated campus chapters of the national Muslim Students Association. MSA MSU’s mission is to “bring Muslim students together on campus,” to “educate both Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam,” and to “wipe away negative stereotypes about the beautiful religion.”
The MSA MSU website provides a link to sources explaining that “Islam is an Arabic Word which means peace, purity, acceptance and commitment”; that “[a] Muslim is one who … works towards the establishment of a just and equitable social order which would totally reflect the guidance of God”; that the Prophet Muhammad “obliges the Muslims to follow his exemplary life in every way”; that “[c]omprehensive teachings on which sound systems of social justice, economics, politics, legislation, jurisprudence, law and international relations can be built, are important contents of the Holy Quran”; that Islam countenances “[n]o discrimination [against women] … on the basis of sex”; that jihad means “struggle,” and “consists in exerting oneself to the utmost in order to personally follow the teachings of Islam”; that “to struggle in the path of Allah with the pen, speech, and his sword is Jihad”; that “Islam, over the last 1400 years, has shown in practice how racism can be ended”; and that “Islam nourishes human unselfishness, generosity and love in a well organized family system.”
The MSA MSU website is replete with posts which suggest that Muslims in America face severe and constant discrimination. One such post, from November 2006, depicts as victims the six imams whose suspicious behavior caused US Airways personnel to remove them from their scheduled flight on November 20. In the article, a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesman was quoted as saying that the clerics had been victims of “fear and prejudice based on stereotyping of Muslims and Islam,” and were guilty of nothing more than “flying while Muslim.” The article also quoted one of the imams complaining that the airline “took us off the plane” and “humiliated us in a very disrespectful way” for doing “nothing.” The MSA MSU member who posted this story lamented that it was “once again … some really sad news.” Said another member sarcastically, “again this is America … the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
The MSA MSU website also contains many posts suggesting that Israel is guilty of egregious human rights violations against the Palestinians. A November 8, 2006 post, for instance, lamented that when recent Israeli Defense Force (IDF) shellings in northern Gaza had killed 19 Palestinians, “Most of the dead [were] women and children.” The writer did not mention that IDF anti-terror operations are often impacted by the fact that the Arab terrorists invariably take refuge in the midst of civilian populations.
Wrote one MSA MSU member:
“i swear man, Israel is so stupid…. all they gotta say is that they take full responsibility and they are sorry then they don’t get blamed for anything and are off the hook [–] d**n Israel Army … Everyone knows they doing wrong but are too afraid to intervene because d**n America is supporting them … btw. the ones killed were sleeping which is the worst part about it [.] Israel claims they are trying to stop the men shootin[g] missles, but instead they kill the women and children taking refuge and sleeping …” (All grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors were in the original.)
Other MSA MSU members voiced their feeling that Muslims, by and large, are misunderstood victims in an ignorant and intolerant world. (Again, all grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors were in the original):
- “What’s amazing is how ingorant [sic] Americans are when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli issue, the media is to blame of course but its still unbelievable.”
- “You think it’s just Palestine they’re ignorant about?? It’s everything that has to do with Islam that people are ignorant about … look at the Danish cartoon incident, the image of muslim women, Bosnia, Kashmir, the Middle East … that’s just to name a few … They say ignorance is bliss … yeah well from where I’m standing the majority of the world is ignorant.”
- “I know.. and then you go to different online forums … and you hear these ignorant imbeciles trying to talk the world against Islam as if they are the sole possessors of the True Knowledge… just a little bit of intellect leads to arrogance, but it takes a deeper, and a longer commitment to knowledge that leads to the true wisdom … those foolish little boys and girls think that by being able to speak full words they can form meaning .. as if .. if you don’t have a brain to back up your words .. your words are just hot air, or dried up ink on paper .. that’s all.. sometimes the stupidity of the world astounds me…”
In April 2006, MSA MSU members held a rally protesting a Danish newspaper’s recent publication of a series of cartoons lampooning the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad. According to the group, the cartoons in question constituted “hate speech.” (None of the demonstrators indicated whether the label “hate speech” might also accurately describe the wave of raging, sometimes violent Muslim riots — laced with all manner of anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic invectives — which the cartoons had triggered.)
In response to this April 2006 protest, a Michigan State professor named Indrek Wichman sent an e-mail to MSA MSU, which read as follows:
Dear Moslem Association: As a professor of Mechanical Engineering here at MSU[,] I intend to protest your protest. I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders, murders of Catholic priests (the latest in Turkey!), burnings of Christian churches, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavian girls and women (called “whores” in your culture), the murder of film directors in Holland, and the rioting and looting in Paris France.
This is what offends me, a soft-spoken person and academic, and many, many, many of my colleagues. I counsel you dissatisfied, aggressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems to be very aware of this as you proceed with your infantile “protests.”
If you do not like the values of the West — see the 1st Amendment — you are free to leave. I hope for God’s sake that most of you choose that option. Please return to your ancestral homelands and build them up yourselves instead of troubling Americans.
In response to this email, MSA MSU (along with twelve other student and advocacy groups) demanded not only that the University administration reprimand Professor Wichman, but also that it institute mandatory diversity training for faculty and a seminar on hate and discrimination for freshman.
Six months later Michigan State University, after lengthy negotiations with the Muslim Students Association and CAIR, announced that it would offer non-mandatory diversity training — including an Islamic awareness workshop facilitated by MSA MSU and funded by the University — for its faculty and student body. Said Paulette Granberry Russell, Director of MSU’s Office for Affirmative Action Compliance and Monitoring: “We’re working with the MSA to identify the things that they want to discuss. Then we’re going to use those ideas as a basis for developing educational programs.”
“Hatred like [Professor Wichman’s] can’t be coming from our professors,” said then-MSA liaison to the University (and former MSA President) Farhan Abdul Azeez. “We’re trying to get more to the root of the problem, which is a misunderstanding of Islam and Muslims. This isn’t just for the Muslim community, but it’s for all minorities.”
In August 2007, pressure from MSA MSU resulted in a decision by the University of Michigan to spend $25,000 to install foot baths for Muslim students in its campus rest rooms. Maweza Razzaq, President of MSA MSU, said that having access to foot baths would help Muslim students feel more comfortable about practicing their ritual washing (of feet, hands, face and forearms) in public before praying.