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Jewish Journal

Anti-Islam Petition Fails to Sway UCLA

by Jonah Lowenfeld

March 8, 2011 | 5:16 pm

“Islam is NOT a religion.”

“Please understand the danger that Islam poses to our society.”

“OUTLAW ISLAM IN AMERICA!”

These and many other similar comments appear alongside the names of more than 1,000 signatories to a petition calling for the Muslim Student Association (MSA) to be banned from the UCLA campus.

The effort, begun in early February, was led by the Calabasas-West Valley chapter of ACT! for America. Spurred by reports on conservative blogs about the 13th annual MSA Western Conference, which took place Jan. 14-16 on UCLA’s campus, the Calabasas group demanded the MSA be prohibited from gathering on campus on the grounds that the group was “advocating the overriding of the authority of the government of the United States.”

“Under the guise of free speech,” Shari Goodman, the Calabasas chapter’s leader, wrote to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, “they [MSA] have for years conducted a campaign to not only delegitimize the state of Israel at numerous campuses throughout the country, but they have also engaged in unprecedented anti-Semitism directed at Jewish students on American college
campuses.”

UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton said the university had been monitoring the petition and would not accede to the request to ban the MSA. “We believe the MSA and its leaders demonstrated exemplary leadership leading up to and during the conference,” Hampton said. “UCLA has a rich tradition of facilitating the free and open exchange of ideas. We do that in an environment that respects differences of opinions.”

Even allies in the fight against Islam have come out against the Calabasas chapter’s petition. David Horowitz, a conservative writer with little love for Islam (and even less for the free speech practiced at many American universities) slammed the petition on his Front Page Mag blog. Calling it “misguided,” even as he reiterated the basic claims on which it was based — namely that the MSA “is a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood” and a “sister organization of the terrorist group Hamas.”

Horowitz also reported that Brigitte Gabriel, the founder, president and CEO of ACT! for America, did not support the campaign by the Calabasas-West Valley chapter, one of 501 individual and autonomous chapters across the country. Gabriel could not be reached for comment.

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