The Council on American Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today joined 17 Maryland-based groups in calling on Stevenson University to drop anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a speaker at an upcoming Baltimore Speakers Series event or to at least offer a balancing perspective to her Islamophobic rhetoric.
The interfaith coalition’s letter states in part:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has called Islam "a destructive, nihilistic cult of death"
“Ms. Ali is by all means free to believe as she chooses. We uphold First Amendment rights for all - including those with inflammatory, misguided views. However, our concern is that granting her this unchallenged platform to peddle misinformation would legitimize such falsehoods, perpetuate intolerance toward and hatred of Muslims, and risk jeopardizing the safety of local Muslims - including students on your campus."
The coalition - which includes Interfaith Action for Human Rights, Progressive Maryland, Casa De Maryland, and a number of prominent mosques in the state - made its request as a result of community concerns and of an unprecedented rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and hate incidents nationwide in recent months.
Suggestions offered to Stevenson University include allowing an actual expert on Islam to attend the event to respond to any of Ali’s Islamophobic remarks or to schedule another speaker recommended by the Maryland Muslim community to speak at a later date to “dispel misunderstandings created by Ms. Ali’s appearance at the university.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.