I was really hoping that I wouldn’t have to write about this. The unfortunate event happened, Georgetown Israel Alliance and the Jewish Students Association apologized, and I thought we could leave it at that. But after reading The Hoya of Tuesday, Nov. 5, I feel that I must respond. I am referring to the presentations given by Bat Ye’or and David Littman on Oct. 22 and the subsequent controversy. Before I get into it, let me just make one thing clear. Any views expressed here are of course solely my opinion and it being a free country, I assume I can do that without being sued.

My problem with the lectures was that instead of referring to specific regimes or leaders who had infringed on the rights of minorities in the Arab world, Ye’or and Littman attacked the religion of Islam itself as supporting these acts. No distinction was made between the acts of people who claim to be Muslim and what the religion itself preaches. GIA and JSA claim that they did not know this was going to happen, but when you organize something, it is your responsibility to know what you are supporting. If I was disappointed by the event’s organization, I was pleased by the response from GIA and JSA. They recognized that they had made a mistake and appropriately apologized. I have a problem with people who weren’t there, and even some who graduated several years ago, writing letters to the editor decrying this apology. These letters truly display their ignorance on the issue.

In Littman’s article in The Hoya (“Speakers Respond to Controversy; Tell Their Side of Story,” Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2002, p.3) he emphasizes all his experience at the United Nations. The fact that there are people like him on human rights commissions scares me. He characterizes the reaction of the Jewish students by saying they reduced themselves to a state similar to that of dhimmitude within 24 hours. Making this trivial analogy is an insult to all the Jews in the Arab world who have truly suffered for years under repressive regimes.

Bat Ye’or’s lecture, like her address in The Hoya on Nov. 5, was seriously flawed. Among her many mistakes was the fact that she looked at medieval incidents and analyzed them in light of modern human rights. It is an unfair and unrealistic comparison if you have to go back several centuries to find evidence to support your point of view. In her article in The Hoya, she writes that the uslim students would not accept a word of criticism about jihad. Well, maybe if she had bothered to define jihad properly in her speech we would not have had a problem with it. She defined jihad solely in terms of war, neglecting to mention that the Greater Jihad is the struggle against the temptations of one’s own mind and the Lesser Jihad is the jihad of physical fighting, which is only permitted for self-defense. Jihad wasn’t the only thing she got wrong, her definition of dawah, educating others about your religion, was a blatant lie. When I asked her to define her sources she could give no concrete reply.

I also would not have had such a big problem with her speech had she had any evidence from the Koran or Sunnah to support it. After all, regardless of the actions of individual Muslims, Islam is based on the Koran and authentic hadith (sayings of the Prophet uhammad). If any sources were mentioned, their full context was not given and so she painted a biased picture. For example, Bat Ye’or talked about the expulsion of the Jews from their home in Medina during the time of the Prophet. What she neglected to mention was that it was a time of war, when one particular Jewish tribe had a treaty with the Muslims and they went against this treaty by betraying the Muslims to the opposing side. When it was time to be punished for treason, they requested that their own law judge them. Their law mandated that they be expelled. When a student made an attempt to point this out to Ye’or she was rudely and promptly shut up by the speaker. Littman and Ye’or make reference to the behavior of the Muslim students which I also agree was in some instances inappropriate, but they never make reference to their own inexcusable and disrespectful attitudes when asked questions.

In her address in The Hoya, Ye’or ridicules any attempt to distinguish real Islam from the actions of people who claim to be uslim. In her mind they are one and the same. She supports this attitude by asserting that no one makes a distinction between pure Christianity and the Inquisition or Crusades. Excuse me? I was unaware that there were people still under the illusion that these horrible events were in conjunction with what Jesus Christ preached. Hitler was a Roman Catholic who got silent compliance from the Pope, but no one accuses Catholicism of being a neo-Nazi religion. Why must Islam be an exception? I may have a serious problem with Israel’s ongoing human rights abuses in Palestine, but I don’t believe that Judaism is responsible for it. Israeli soldiers may kill little Palestinian boys, but it doesn’t mean that it is Judaism’s fault. I am very sorry that Bat Ye’or was unfairly expelled from her home in Egypt. No one is trying to deny that minorities have suffered under different rulers in the Arab world, but Islam is not to blame for this. Its principles in no way support these actions.

What I really cannot stand, however, is the hypocrisy of the whole situation, in some way supported by Georgetown’s administration. If this had been a Muslim-supported lecture that insulted Judaism or Christianity, there would have been serious repercussions. Turn around the tables and you will realize that if they had been authors who openly bashed Catholicism, they would have never been allowed to come here. Will the Student Activities Commission and Lecture Fund give students money to invite Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmad Yassin or neo-Nazi writer David Irving? I think not. So why is it acceptable to bash Islam but not Judaism or Christianity? Can someone please explain that?

Maryam Mohamed is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service and can be reached at mohamedthehoya.com. Window to My World appears every other Friday.

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