Inside the Muslim Student Association Conference, Part 3

Untitled-3-450x336By Mark Tapson:

In Part 1 of this series on the recent 15th Annual Muslim Student Association (MSA) West Conference, which I attended at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I gave a general overview of the conference’s pro-Palestinian activism, its promotion of a sense of victimization at the mercy of an Islamophobic society and university system, its urgent appeal to political activism that goes hand-in-hand with its emphasis on strengthening one’s Muslim faith and community, and its support from top Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America. Part 2 focused on the biggest names who had been invited to speak there, radicals like Siraj WahhajEdina Lekovich and Taher Herzallah of the infamous Irvine 11. Let’s look at some of the lesser-known speakers there whose presentations were even more political.

Ali Mir, Director of Muslim Student Life at the University of Southern California, whose bio was not included in the conference program booklet, lectured the crowd about “white privilege” in a session called “Perennial Spring,” probably intended to echo the disastrous “Arab Spring.” Mir identified cultural and economic “imperialism” as the basis of American foreign policy, and urged students to get politically involved in “social justice”: “As Muslims, we demonstrate our Islamic principles by working to empower all marginalized people, regardless of their faith,” reads his session description. Really? Like the marginalized Christians in Egypt and Nigeria and elsewhere where Muslim fundamentalists are slaughtering them openly? Like the marginalized Jews in Europe and elsewhere who are suffering increased violent persecution at the hands of Muslims? Mir neglected to address that contradiction.

As an example of how the organized Muslim students can effect meaningful change on campus, Mir told the audience that “your friend and mine, David Horowitz” delivered a talk at the University of Southern California three years ago in which “he said stupid things.” He didn’t specify what they were, but the plan he encouraged among his fellow students at that time was to “write down every racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic thing Horowitz said” and force the university to issue a statement denouncing him afterward – which Mir said it did, to the applause of his uncritical audience.

That’s not quite the whole story. In fact, David Horowitz was invited by the USC College Republicans to come on campus and protest an Islamic hadith which appeared on an official USC website, calling for the genocide of Jews. His speech was attacked in advance by Students for Justice in Palestine and the USC Progressive Alliance, who made up quotes and attributed them to Horowitz to paint him as an Islamophobe and a racist. Nonetheless, Horowitz was allowed to speak at USC on November 4, 2009.

Later, the USC Vice President of Student Affairs, Michael Jackson, published an open letter in the campus newspaper, attacking the College Republicans for inviting Horowitz. He claimed that Horowitz’s presence “led members of our community, our Muslim students, to feel threatened, unsafe, and betrayed.” This letter was also sent to every official USC student, faculty, and staff email address and was published as an ad in the Daily Trojan, which Jackson controlled. Horowitz responded with a rebuttal, which the Trojan ultimately and reluctantly printed.

In his MSA West conference presentation, Mir didn’t offer specifics about objectionable Horowitz statements. He didn’t need to; it was enough for him to simply use unsubstantiated, demonizing labels: “racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic.” Because for radicals like Mir (and his allies in the unholy alliance of the left and Muslim fundamentalists), those labels suppress debate and misrepresent the substance and philosophy of their opponents like Horowitz.

Mir went on to condemn the atheist anti-Islam writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali as “as much an extremist as Osama bin Laden,” because of her assertion that Muslims would be better off converting to Christianity. That’s right – he considers Hirsi Ali as much of an extremist as the man who ordered the World Trade Center massacre and other acts of terrorism. The man who was the living inspiration for violent jihadists worldwide. No student in the auditorium raised an objection.

Read more at Front Page

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.

Inside the Muslim Student Association Conference, Part 2

newlogo-450x297By Mark Tapson:

To read Part I, click here

In the previous installment of this short series on the recent 15th Annual Muslim Student Association (MSA) West Conference, which I attended at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I gave a general overview of the conference. The article summarized its pro-Palestinian political agenda, its preoccupation with hyping the threat of Islamophobia, its appeal to political activism in addition to its emphasis on strengthening one’s Muslim faith and community, and its support from some of the most influential Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America. Now let’s look at some of the principal individual speakers involved and their messages.

Edina Lekovic

Edina Lekovic

The conference featured a range of professors, imams, businesspeople, media representatives, linguists, and even engineers. The biggest names were Imam Siraj Wahhaj and Edina Lekovich, Director of Policy and Programming for MPAC, the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Lekovich, a prominent Islamic face in the mainstream media, has claimed in the past that Muslims are everywhere being slaughtered by “Zionists,” and she edited a UCLA Muslim student paper that cast doubt on Holocaust claims and praised Ayatollah Khomeini and bin Laden as freedom fighters. At the UCSB conference her topic was “Beyond the Muslim Bubble,” which emphasized the very innocuous-sounding aim of “integrating ourselves into American society” to “build bridges with non-Muslims”: “We weren’t made to sit on the sidelines and not play an active role in society.”

Siraj Wahhhaj

Siraj Wahhhaj

Siraj Wahhaj, the imam of the Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, spoke at two main sessions at the conference: “Messengers of the Messenger,” about committing oneself to carrying forth the message of Muhammad today, and “Cultivating Our Own Spring,” about “actualizing our potential” to create a concrete foundation and strategy for the future. Both of his presentations were very vague and rambling. In the program booklet’s biography of Wahhaj, it wasn’t mentioned that he had been named as a possible co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and had invited the infamous Blind Sheikh to address his congregation several times. It neglects to point out that he advocates replacing the U.S. government with an Islamic caliphate, and has supported violent jihad. “You don’t get involved in politics because it’s the American thing to do,” Wahhaj said in 1991. “You get involved in politics because politics are a weapon to use in the cause of Islam.” A few years later he stated that “In time, democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing, and the only thing that will remain will be Islam.”

The cagey Wahhaj and Lekovich said nothing so controversial in the course of their MSA West conference sessions, however. After all, in addition to avoiding exposing their radical message to outsiders like myself, they are also keen to seduce into the Brotherhood fold any naïve Muslim students who might be in attendance. But the mere presence of Wahhaj and Lekovich, as well as the involvement of Brotherhood legacy groups, as I mentioned, confirm the radical underpinnings of the MSA West conference.

Read more at Front Page

 

Inside the Muslim Student Association Conference, Part 1

msaBy :

Last weekend I attended the 15th Annual Muslim Student Association (MSA) West Conference at the University of California campus in the beautiful seaside town of Santa Barbara. A thousand Muslim students flocked to the school for a packed three-day weekend of speaker sessions and workshops on spiritual tools, campus activism, and “institution building,” all with the supervision and support of the American branches of the subversive Muslim Brotherhood.

The MSA is a fifty-year-old Muslim Brotherhood affiliate with chapters on many hundreds of college campuses (check out this report on the MSA from Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism). The Brotherhood, as I’m sure all FrontPage Mag readers know, is devoted to the elimination of Western civilization. They don’t officially exist in the United States, but of course they have operated here for many decades in the guise of powerful, well-funded legacy groups, the most prominent of which were intimately involved in the MSA West Conference.

The thrust of the annual conference, as its welcome letter stated, was “to inspire, empower, and provide attendees with a tangible plan” – “action items… to improve their personal lives, their MSAs, and their communities at large” – and to link spirituality and activism: “Spirituality is the foundation, providing roots for activism; activism is actualized when produced by a sound spiritual community.” “We weren’t made to sit on the sidelines and not play an active role in society,” reads the description of a workshop led by Edina Lekovic, Communications Director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Toward that end, the MSA hosted nearly 1000 Muslim students, according to its website, for the intense conference. I can attest to the fact that the 860-seat Campbell Hall auditorium, where the main sessions of the conference took place, was always almost entirely full for the main sessions, with more young women than young men in the strictly segregated audience. Speaking of the young women: by my estimate, more than 90% of them were wearing the hijab.

Many of the program listings for the weekend sounded as innocuous and self-actualizing as a Deepak Chopra seminar: “Unlock Your Potential,” one was titled. “Rebirth of the Spiritual Warrior” was another. “Blueprint from the Divine.” “Finding the One.” “Green Your Deen.” Even “Time and Stress Management.” And indeed, there was much lecturing from the speakers about purely spiritual matters: how to be a better Muslim, how to more closely model one’s behavior after the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his companions (whom one speaker, Maryam Amirebrahimi, referred to as “the Prophet’s homeboys and homegirls”), how to redefine masculinity and womanhood, how to deal with campus temptations like drinking and gender relations, etc.

There were also, however, quite a few workshops and talks with an overtly political slant.

Read more at Front Page