Skip to comments.Chaplain Cuts Conservatives' Guest List [Columbia]
Posted on 10/12/2006 1:39:26 PM PDT by firebrand
The former PLO member spoke to a quiet auditorium while, outside, upset students and angered guests found themselves alienated.
Guests of the Columbia University College Republicans found themselves stranded as an eleventh-hour security decision left them without seats, and Muslim Students Association members found the door to their prayer room posted with fliers taking them to task for not attending, hours before an event headlined by former Palestinian militant Walid Shoebat kicked off Wednesday night.
The Republicans and the Columbia College Conservative Club sponsored the event titled "From Hate to Love" where three guests, among them former members of the Hitler Youth and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, spoke in Roone Arledge Auditorium about how their experiences as children and teenagers affected their adult lives. Shoebat, Zachariah Anani, who recorded 233 kills as a teenage Lebanese militiaman, and Hilmar von Campe, a German World War II soldier and former member of the Hitler Youth, all delivered speeches to a largely empty auditorium.
Within hours of the event, University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis' office revoked the invitations of nearly 100 guests of the Republicans. This prompted outrage from people both inside the auditorium and outside, where some of the formerly invited guests who had come from as far as Harrisburg, Penn., stood.
Guests said Shoebat was blocked from personally admitting them by University officials.
"The excuse that they used was that they were afraid of repercussions. I guess as a result of security," Shoebat said during his speech. "If Hillary Clinton comes to speak at the University, they should keep a lot of people from going, too."
"The approved application was for a Columbia student event and their invited guests," a statement from Columbia's public affairs office said. "Bringing 115 people who are not Columbia students and whom the sponsoring group cannot identify or vouch for is not consistent with the student event that was proposed and approved."
In light of the controversial nature of the speakers and the circumstances surrounding last week's speech by Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist, University security was in full force.
In addition to half-a-dozen Public Security officers, about 20 University administrators-including Executive Vice Presidents Lisa Hogarty and David Stone, Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin, and Vice President for Public Safety Jim McShane-could be seen in the auditorium at some point during the night. A plastic fence was erected across the width of the stage-in contrast to the rope line barrier employed at the Gilchrist event-and attendees had to check their bags and umbrellas.
Before the event started, members of the Muslim Students Association went to their prayer room on the first floor of Earl Hall and found copies of a press release from the Walid Shoebat Foundation taped to the prayer room door, posted on bulletin boards throughout the hall, and stuck in members' mailboxes. The statement, released early Wednesday morning, quoted Shoebat as saying: "It is interesting to note that the official line of the Arab Student groups on campus is not to protest against us peacefully or even to turn up. Yet last week they choose to participate in a violent onslaught regarding a subject that is not directly relevant to their cause. This should prove that standing up to intimidation and bullies is the only option on campus and in the free world."
Omar Siddiqi, CC '09 and president of the Muslim Students Association, called the fliers a "desecration" of University students' safe spaces. "I feel as though my personal safe space was violated because this happened at our prayer room door." Siddiqi said that he didn't attend the speech because "I knew what he was going to say." He added, "I respect his right to speak, but they [speakers including Gilchrist and Shoebat] deprave and dehumanize groups."
Keith Davies, executive director of the Walid Shoebat Foundation, said that the organization "never told anybody to post the leaflet anywhere" and that the organization "can't be responsible" for those who posted the fliers.
The MSA handed one of the fliers to Joe Ienuso, executive vice president for facilities, who said he would deliver the message to University President Lee Bollinger.
During the speech itself, Shoebat said he believed anti-Semitic indoctrination was occurring at universities including Columbia and Princeton, where an invitation for him to speak was rescinded last year. "Terrorism is not just bombs, it is indoctrination, similar to the indoctrination that is in the heartland," he said. "Before we can fight the terrorism that is without, we have to fight the terrorism that is within."
Anani said that as a child, he was "told that the Jews had the wrath of God in them." Anani's question "was what did they do and my answer was I do not know and I decided to read and find out." Anani said that this exploration led him to convert to Christianity.
"I found his experience fascinating," Ari Zolin, CC '10, said of Shoebat. "I thought that a lot of what he said had validity ... but I was disappointed that he didn't speak enough to solutions to problems."
An hour-long question-and-answer period turned into a respectful, though contentious, exchange on the Muslim religion.
"I was glad that the students were ... willing to engage in intellectual debate. I came in with a very different opinion," Pierce Stanley, CC '10, said. "I was happy to hear the debate go down because it's something that isn't talked about that often."
Chapter members and others . . . One of our FR activists at work here.
Yeah, so? What are alums gonna do about it (answer: nothing)?
But of course if you don't bother with getting approvals and simply storm somebody else's approved event with a big crowd of "people who are not Columbia students and whom the sponsoring group cannot identify or vouch for", that's no problem.
Sounds like Omar Siddiqi, unlike many Molsem people, is a tolerant guy who would never associate with people who "deprave and dehumanize groups", huh. Then why is he apparently a buddy of the oh-so-tolerant folks who run the blog called "team sakib"? In a February posting (near the bottom of the page), the blog mentions a Guardian article about the origins of the Danish cartoon flap brought to the attention of the bloggers by Siddiqi, and goes on to comment:
The newspaper's editors felt the Mohammed (pbuh) cartoons would be enjoyable to their readership and would not provoke their target readership to outcry. Given that the newspaper aims to sell to right-wing, Christian, xenophobic, Islamphobic Eurotrash, this seems like sound marketing logic.
Those are not his words, but they are the words of a person that he voluntarily associates with.
So, Omar, doesn't it sound like your buddies "deprave and dehumanize groups"? What are you doing associating with such people?
Note: While there may be many people going by the name of Omar Siddiqi, I am quite confident that it is the same one, because a different post within the same blog contains the following wording: "By request of Omar Siddiqi (Columbia University- Salem, NH)"...
Ron, any link for a video of the Q&A?
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