Thursday, April 03, 2008

Perhaps not so innocent 

The front page of the campus newspaper blared "Islam awareness week begins". I thought, if you ain't aware of it by now, an awareness week is likely to also miss your attention. The report just linked there indicated the Muslim Students Association on campus wanted "to teach non-Muslims to understand the second-largest religion in the world." Making our students aware of other religions seems a good thing, an innocent act that should be applauded on academic campuses, and is how our local campus newspaper reported it.

One of the presenters, Siraj Wahhaj, canceled his appearance for earlier today. The StarTribune reports on his cancelation and his background:

Siraj Wahhaj was supposed to speak Thursday on the topic "What is Jihad?" The school was unaware of a reason for his inability to participate. Wahhaj was also scheduled to speak to other college student groups in the state this week.

His appearance at the University of Minnesota has also been canceled, said Lolla Mohammed Nur, a U student organizer.

Wahhaj, an American-born imam of a mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y., is on the executive committee of the Muslim Alliance in North America, a network of organizations addressing needs in American Muslim communities.

...In 1991, speaking to an Islamic association of Texas, Wahhaj called Operation Desert Storm "one of the most diabolical plots ever in the annals of history," and that the war to oust Iraq from Kuwait was "part of a larger plan, to destroy the greatest challenge to the Western world, and that's Islam."

Wahhaj, while praised for combating drugs in New York and being the first Muslim to offer a prayer to open a session of Congress, has also appeared on a government list of unindicted co-conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

I'm for academic freedom and assume he had some interesting things to say, but his sudden cancellation is odd. Salon reports that
Wahhaj had invited Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman to speak at his mosque, and even testified on his behalf. Just as the USSR fell, so too will the U.S., Wahaj said, "unless America changes its course from the new world order and accepts the Islamic agenda."
Daniel Pipes has more. It's a shame he didn't come. Being aware of that kind of Islam would be good for many of our students.