The Muslim Students Association (MSA) has over 150 university chapters across the US and is growing. They label themselves as a religious group that provides support and fellowship for Muslim students on campus. They engage in joint Friday prayers and organize social events, such as dinners. In addition, they engage in outreach to non-Muslim students and try to present a positive picture of Islam. None of that, of course, is objectionable, and having observed the issue for about 6 years, I hold the opinion that most Muslim students entering college join their local chapter for pure reasons. However, it seems that there is a troubling trend in MSA chapters that leadership positions are generally occupied by those who have a political agenda. Several past officials of MSA across the nation have gone off to join the terrorist movement. The most obvious example is Anwar al Awlaki. On September 9, 2001, two days before 9-11, Awlaki joined the UC Irvine MSU in a benefit event in defense of H. Rap Brown, aka Jamil Abdullah al-Amin, now serving life in prison for the murder of a Georgia policeman. Other former leaders of the MSA are currently in prison on terror-related charges. (Hat tip Frontpage Magazine)
MSAs also state in general terms that they are fighters for justice. That essentially boils down to being active participants in efforts to demonize Israel. Along with what can only be described as their sister organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, many MSA chapters hold annual week-long events devoted to de-legitimizing the Jewish state featuring numerous anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian speakers, some of whom are even Jewish themselves. (The SJP was conveniently formed at UC Irvine during the quarter that the MSU was under suspension as punishment for their disruption of the Israeli ambassador's speech in 2010).Yet, many of the speakers, such as those I have observed at the University of California at Irvine, also have made comments that can only be described as anti-Semitic and anti-American as well. These events have led to tension and confrontations on campus between Muslim and Jewish students who dare to express support for Israel’s right to exist. Of course, the most notorious example of this tension occurred at UCI in 2010 when the Muslim Student Union loudly disrupted a speaking appearance by the Israel Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. (Hat tip Jewlicious)
In addition, physical confrontations between Muslim and Jewish students have occurred at other campuses across North America, such as UC Berkeley, UW-Milwaukee and York University in Toronto, to name a few.
One thing is crucial to recognize at the outset: The various MSA chapters are a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This was brought out at the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas in 2007. In that trial involving Islamic charities funneling funds to terror groups overseas, a seized document was introduced as evidence, It was a letter written in the 1980s, from a Brotherhood official, Mohammed Akram, to numerous organizations in the US, such as the Islamic Society of North America and many others including the MSA. The document can be viewed here in Arabic and English. (Hat tip Discover the Networks) Among others, it contains this statement:
"The process of settlement is a 'Civilization-Jihadist Process' with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal".
This is the same document and quote that I confronted Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Ibrahim el Hudaiby with on October 8, 2008, when he spoke in front of a UC Irvine class taught by Professor Mark LeVine, an activist against Israel. Hudaiby denied the authenticity of the letter and stated that there was no Muslim Brotherhood in America. He also referred to the words and writings of such people as Brotherhood founder Hasan al Banna and Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al Qaradawi, a rabid anti-Semite, as "proof" that the Brotherhood's intentions were peaceful. A bare minimum of research easily refuted those assertions, which I pointed out to Hudaiby in subsequent comment threads on my blog, Fousesquawk.
In 2012, the MSA came to national attention, when it was revealed the the NYPD was monitoring the activities of several MSA chapters in universities not only in the city, but in other parts of the Northeast.
Probably no other chapter has drawn as much attention as that of the Muslim Student Union (MSU) at UC Irvine. For the past decade, their activities on campus and the hate-filled words of many of their invited speakers have given UCI a black eye nation-wide.
My own involvement with the MSU at UC Irvine began in 2006. I had been teaching part-time at the university's extension since 1998 and did not frequently visit the main part of the campus other than to go to the library.) As I was leaving the library and going to my car to teach a class at nearby Concordia University, I passed by a speaking event at the campus flagpole area in which a speech was in progress by Washington DC imam Abdul Alim Musa, (formerly Clarence Reams, convicted drug trafficker) one of the most vile anti-American, pro-Iranian, anti-Semitic speakers I have ever heard. I only caught the last few minutes, but it was enough to hear him say that Islam was going to take over the US. "We want it all," he said while assuring us Christians and Jews that we would be protected. I was so hot that passing by, I yelled out and called him an "idiot". He responded calling me, "home boy" (as he often does). I then yelled something to him about hating America, to which he replied, "I survived America".
Abdul Alim Musa
Subsequently, I began looking into what was going on at UCI. Why would the MSU put up a banner on a campus wall proclaiming, "Racism: The American Creed", which I personally observed around that time? So I began attending the May events every year and listening to the hate-filled rhetoric coming from people like Amir Abdel Malik Ali and Mohammed al Asi, both of whom, like Musa, do not hesitate to attack Jews as people. It was al Asi who said at UCI in 2001, "You can take the Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew". It is Ali, who virtually every year comes to UCI and identifies particular public figures as "Zionist Jews" as he spits the words out a'la Julius Streicher. In 2006, Ali, flanked by two young men posing as menacing-looking goons, called Rupert Murdoch a "straight up Zionist Jew" (hat tip Stand With Us). Ali was also a speaker at the MSA Western Regional Conference at UCLA in 2011 where he led the audience in the pledge of allegiance at the close of his speech. The pledge of allegiance turned out to be the Muslim Brotherhood pledge of allegiance. (Hat tip Creeping Sharia)
But the MSAs have no connection to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Amir Abdel Malik Ali at UC Irvine
In 2008, the UC Irvine MSU's "Israel Apartheid Wall', which is hauled out every year, featured a caricature of Ariel Sharon drawn in the style of Streicher's anti-Semitic Nazi newspaper, "Der Stuermer."
But the MSU claims it is not anti-Semitic.
And who are some of the other speakers I have observed speak at UCI during the MSU's anti-Israel week? How about Cynthia McKinney, the discredited former congresswoman from Georgia (2009)?
It gets better. There is the supporter of Saddam Hussein, Syria and Hamas, British MP George Galloway, who actually conducted a fund raiser for Hamas at UCI (2009).
George Galloway (in red)
Another British radical who has spoken at UC Irvine for the MSU (2007) is Yvonne Ridley, a journalist who was captured by the Taliban when she tried to illegally enter Afghanistan to cover the war. Returning to Britain, she converted to Islam, joined the crusade against Israel, told British Muslims not to cooperate with police, and got a job reporting for Iran's Press TV until Britain shut it down.
There is Ward Churchill, the discredited ex-professor from the University of Colorado, who hath no love lost for his own country. He spoke at UCI during Israel-Apartheid Week in 2007 and acted like a juvenile. (Hat tip Mere Rhetoric)
In 2011, the MSU brought in Michael Prysner, an Iraqi war vet who had turned against his country, its military, and of course, Israel.
To be sure, in an effort to buttress their disclaimers at the beginning of every event that they are not anti-Semitic, the MSU at UCI has dragged in a variety of anti-Israel speakers who themselves are of Jewish origin. The most dignified of them is Hedy Epstein, a nice old woman in her eighties who was sent by her German family to London during the Third Reich thus surviving the Holocaust. I simply consider her terribly misguided. Yet, there are others who can only be described as left-wing radicals acting out their "rage against the machine". Jewish Voice for Peace has appeared at UCI (2011). They are a charming lot led by Israeli anarchist Matan Cohen, who think that any defense of Israel is "useless discourse" and not deserving of First Amendment rights. They disrupted the speech of Benjamin Netanyahu in New Orleans a couple of years back, an example of what they term, "direct action". Norman Finkelstein, a misfit professor who lost his job at DePaul University over his ridiculous "scholarship", now makes his living traveling the university lecture circuit damning Israel as "an independent scholar with a PhD from Princeton". Then there is Rabbi Ysroel Dovid Cohen of the fringe Neturei Karta sect in New York. They believe that Israel had no right to become an independent Jewish state out of some theological grounds. Weiss not only speaks against Israel, he is a personal friend and defender of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime, claiming that they protect their Jewish citizens. When I confronted him about Iranian treatment of gays and Baha'i, in May 2011, he refused to answer the question preferring to continue his diatribe against Israel.
To be sure, there are many others, and the people mentioned above have appeared at more than just our campus.
In addition, many MSA chapters are expanding their outreach into the local high schools, where MSA groups are also being formed. If it is strictly for religious purposes, that is one thing; if it is for purposes of early radicalization, that is quite another. It also raises the question; where is the money coming from the support these activities? Could the Council on American-Islamic Relations be involved? After all, they are still listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial. Just last month, their San Francisco director, Zahra Billoo, spoke at UC Irvine (as did LA director Hussam Ayloush) during Islam Awareness Week. It was Billoo who used that infamous poster urging Muslims not to talk to the FBI.
All of this brings me back to one of my original points. I address this to the families of Muslim students about to enter college. If you are concerned about the possible radicalization of your son or daughter while in college, make it a point to research what is going on at the colleges under consideration. Check out the campus MSA. Do they have a history of activism on campus, and what speakers have they invited to speak on their behalf? It is very easy to find out. If you really care about this issue, it is just as important as any other consideration in choosing a college for your children.