Conservative speaker to address Islamic extremism
Students prepare to protest Pipes
Dr. Daniel Pipes, a conservative columnist and activist, will speak on campus about issues involving extremist Islamic groups Tuesday night, prompting a range of reactions from conservative supporters to Muslim detractors.
The speech is part of a larger, national event called Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness about the problems extremist groups pose to the global community, and will be hosted by the Conservative Leadership Association (CLA).
Pipes’ appearance is being funded by the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Leadership Institute, two conservative, nonpartisan associations. The CLA did not seek Student Union (SU) funding for the event because the group does not have an official SU budget.
“There is still a threat from radical Islam,” senior Charis Fischer, president of the College Republicans, said. “The fact that this issue is being brought up at all is beneficial for campus.”
Pipes will address the influence of radical Muslim groups and their effect within Western and Islamic society in a speech entitiled “Vanquishing the Islamist Enemy & Helping the Moderate Muslim Ally.”
Pipes has previously taught at Harvard University and was nominated by President Bush to the U.S. Institution of Peace, receiving the position by recess appointment.
“If you are going to be talking about a touchy subject, it is good to bring in an expert,” sophomore Caleb Posner, the CLA events manager, said. “[Pipes] has much experience on the topic of extremist groups, having written several books and articles on the issue.”
The CLA will also be providing free copies of the video “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” which draws comparisons between contemporary radical Islamists and the Nazi Party, at the event.
Pipes has incited controversy in the past with his conservative outlook on international conflicts, especially those involving radical Islam. However, Posner defended Pipes against claims of bigotry and hatred.
“Issues that are not politically correct don’t get much attention, and those of different views—at times—just don’t look at what Dr. Pipes is saying with an open mind,” he said.
The Washington University Peace Coalition (WUPC), however, which demonstrated against the Iraq war last year, plans to protest Pipes’ visit to campus as well.
“Dr. Pipes’ rhetoric expands far beyond the scope of extreme Islam, taking on a guilty until proven innocent view of people who follow Islam,” Adam Shriver, graduate student and WUPC founder, said.
WUPC plans to expose Pipes’ “fear tactics to promote his right-wing agenda.”
The demonstration will be co-sponsored by other University student groups, such as the College Democrats, Amnesty International, Pride Alliance and Students for a Democratic Society. These groups will not only be present at the speech to stage a protest, but will also offer an academic response panel to Pipes’ speech, on Oct. 29.
Professor Fatemeh Keshavarz, chair of the Asian and Near Eastern Studies department, has organized the academic panel. Keshavarz has intensively covered Middle Eastern studies and Western responses to Islam, including the video “Obsession.”
“The video has many factual errors,” Keshavarz said. “It is made up of scary scenes of war and hate rallies which don’t make a documentary.”
A number of students, both Muslim and not, who oppose Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, hope that Pipes will have a low impact on campus, but feel that they are relatively free from discrimination against their creed or religion.
“I have never felt adversity directed toward me because of my religion,” freshman Ali Hong, a Muslim, said.
Sophomore Arvind Miriyala expressed similar feelings about the student body’s perceptions.
“Even without [Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week], I don’t think that I’ve ever experienced any discrimination on campus,” Miriyala said.
The Muslim Students Association and College Democrats could not be reached for comment.
Posner said that Pipes can still aid campus discourse by bolstering support for moderate Muslims and reminding the student body of the grave danger Islamic radicalism presents.
“His speech will hopefully deal with this campus’ apathy toward the subject,” he said. “There will hopefully be a broad audience which will come with an open mind, whether or not they agree with everything he has to say.”