By Susan Schwartz, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
During the week of October 22nd through October 26th many college campuses throughout the United States were hosts to Islamo Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW), the brainchild of neocon David Horowitz. Mr. Horowitz, through his David Horowitz Freedom Foundation, arranged for a parade of Islamophobic speakers, himself included, to address college audiences and instruct them as to the dangers of what was termed radical Islam. At some colleges women students held sit ins in front of the offices of Womenâ€™s Studies teachers to demand that these professors take a stand against what they claim are oppressive attitudes toward women within the Muslim faith. Some of the speakers (the list is not complete) were: David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Ann Coulter, Joe Kaufman, and Nonie Darwish. Without exception student groups mounted a vocal opposition to the presence of IFAW and its presenters
The UCLA campus presentation included the controversial television presentation â€œThe Path to 9/11â€ and a speech by Nonie Darwish. Ms Darwish is Egyptian by birth and is now a resident of the San Fernando Valley. She claims to be the daughter of an Egyptian military officer who was in charge of operations in the Gaza strip while it was under Egyptian control. Her father was assassinated by the Israelis when she was eight years of age. She describes her childhood in Egypt and the oppressive and stifling ambience she grew up with. When she arrived in America and began seek out a mosque in which to worship, she claims that she could not find one that was not hostile to the United States. Along the way she became an admirer of Israel and the Israeli people to the extent that she formed â€œArabs for Israelâ€, though she did not offer any compelling reason for this sea change. Sponsored by the UCLA Young Republican Club, the audience arrived early, and the auditorium was initially packed by people who supported Ms Darwish. At one point in the middle of her speech a group of about 15 students staged a walk out and, as they exited the building, shouted â€œShame on you.â€
Demonstrators in front of the lecture Hall in which she spoke handed out literature and gave short addresses. Interested passersby were anxious to read the hand outs and to listen to the speeches. â€œWhy should I go inside and listen to an hour of prejudiceâ€ said one young woman who opted to stand outside with the protestors. â€˜This is veiled hate speechâ€ insisted a young male student when invited into the lecture Hall.
The main opposition to IFAW came from the Muslim Student Association (MSA).
The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at UCLA was founded during the 1980â€™s. At present more than 150 people attend Jummah prayers and some forty attend monthly meetings.
The most recent project of MSA has been to raise awareness of the inaptly named Islamofascism Awareness Week (IFAW). This has been accomplished through various means.
MSA has chosen the high ground, â€œpreferring to let the truth speak for itself.â€
A letter to the Editor of the Daily Bruin, UCLAâ€™s student newspaper, appeared in the October 24th issue. Written by MSA member, Norah Sarsour, the letter details the accomplishments of MSA and the manner in which MSA preserves American ideals.
A table staffed by MSA was present during IFAW for most of the day on a major student walkway. Literature was distributed by a staff willing also to answer questions about the nature of their organization.
MSA/UCLA has contacted other student groups to volunteer speakers who will discuss the truth about Islam. Indeed, MSA has been approached by non-Muslim groups to present such a program.
The major UCLA student organization (USAC) has taken a stand against IFAW.
MSA/UCLA is community minded. After Jummah prayers, volunteers pack lunch bags to be taken to Skid Row in inner city Los Angeles over the weekend. Recently they took part in Humanitarian Day during Ramadan. MSA also has a mentoring program for youth in the Watts section of Los Angeles. The group has formed IYTP, the Incarcerated Youth Tutorial Project which is carried out in a Juvenile Detention Center. MSA works with the UMMA medical clinic in the inner city of Los Angeles. To top off the list of MSAâ€™s projects, students are part of AMANAH, the Association of Muslims Aiding the Needy and Al Hibah. AMANAH is a community service project which serves the needy in two arenas. First, the residents of Skid Row are given food; and foster children in Al Hibah School, a charter school in Crenshaw, are tutored through a Youth Empowerment Project.
If, as it is believed, actions speak louder than words, then the work of the Muslim Student Association at UCLA has drowned out the Islamophobia of IFAW.