April 11, 2014

​Brandeis University Reneges on Honorary Degree for Muslim Critic

 ©2014 Religion News Service

Brandeis University is accused of caving in to
Muslim pressure after school officials reneged on awarding an honorary degree
to Ayaan Hirsi Ali at its May 18 graduation.

“Brandeis caved to these thugs,” wrote Pamela
Geller, an anti-Muslim activist, at her blog Atlas Shrugs, referring to Muslim
groups who lobbied against honoring Ali. At The Jewish Press, Lori Lowenthal
Marcus accused Brandeis of a “collapse of rectitude.”

But many Muslim and Jewish leaders welcomed the
decision by Brandeis, founded by Jewish leaders in 1948, calling it a victory
against hate speech.

Ali, who was born in Somalia and underwent female
genital mutilation, is a passionate advocate for women’s rights. She is also a
fierce critic of Islam, and has called the religion “a destructive, nihilistic
cult of death.”

“When you advocate for Muslims to be forced to
convert to Christianity, and you frame your argument as ‘Islam is evil,’ then
Ayaan is an Islamophobe. No ifs and buts,” said Ani Zonneveld, president of
Muslims for Progressive Values, an advocacy group. “If Brandeis wants to honor
a women’s rights activist it should have honored someone else.”

Ali, now a fellow at the conservative American
Enterprise Institute, said there is no such thing as moderate Islam. She has
also said Muslim schools in the West should be closed, and in 2007 told Reason
Magazine, “we are at war with Islam.”

“Her anti-Islamic rhetoric and toxic writing
undercut any work she may have done calling attention to human rights abuses
occurring among Muslim populations,” said Anas Coburn, managing director of the
Sakinah Project, an anti-domestic violence group focused on Muslim communities.