The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today welcomed a decision by Brandeis University to withdraw its invitation to notorious anti-Muslim extremist Ayaan Hirsi Ali to receive an honorary degree at commencement ceremonies on May 18 and attributed the "victory over hate" to a unified community response.
CAIR, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, requested that move yesterday in a letter to Brandeis President Frederick M. Lawrence.
Ali has in the past seemed to express sympathy for mass murderer Anders Breivik, who included her writings in his manifesto. She has also stated "we are at war with Islam," called for the closing of "all Muslim schools" in America, urged that Islam be "defeated," claimed "there is no moderate Islam," and suggested that the U.S. Constitution be amended to allow for discrimination against Muslims.
In its statement announcing the withdrawal of Ali's invitation, the university said: "We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values."
"We welcome the recognition by Brandeis University that honoring an anti-Muslim bigot like Ayaan Hirsi Ali would amount to an endorsement of her hate-filled and extremist views," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "We would like to thank all those who took part in the effort to expose Ali's extremism and to convince the university to take corrective action."
Awad added: "This victory over hate was achieved because the American Muslim community joined with interfaith partners in presenting a unified front to challenge Ali's intolerance."
He offered specific thanks to the Brandeis Muslim Students Association, the editors of The Justice student newspaper at Brandeis, Tikun Olam blog editor Richard Silverstein, Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the Islamic Council of New England, Brandeis Professor Joseph Lumbard, and the many Jewish activists and academics who joined in demanding that Brandeis University withdraw its invitation to Ali.
Awad said the issue was not one of First Amendment rights because "Ali remains free to spew her anti-Muslim venom in any other venue," but was instead about a prestigious university not honoring a purveyor of religious bigotry.