Republican Group’s Event Plans Under FireContact Kelly Fitzpatrick at [email protected]
Friday, October 12, 2007
Plans for an Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week to be hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans on campus later this month are prompting opposition from some students and local groups.
Created and funded by well-known conservative pundit and UC Berkeley alumnus David Horowitz, the week, which is scheduled for Oct. 22-26, will run at campuses across the country.
Horowitz said the week is not anti-Muslim but is meant to raise awareness about the dangers of radicalism.
“The idea that all Muslims are fascists is ridiculous. We reject it,” Horowitz said. “The week is in defense of moderate Muslims against radicals. It’s a defense of all Muslim women who are abused, we’re standing up for them.”
According to BCR President Ross Lingenfelder, several events are being planned for the week, including a speech by an “Arabs for Israel” activist, a movie screening and a noon rally on Sproul Plaza.
Several student groups, including the Muslim Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Association of South Asian Political Activists have formed a coalition in response to the planned events.
“(The week) is an attack on the Muslim community at Cal and in the country, and an effort to marginalize them,” said Yaman Salahi, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. “It’s also an attack on the free discussion of political issues, especially about foreign policy and the Middle East.”
In addition to campus organizations opposing the week, several local groups have also been organizing in response to BCR’s plans.
Sam Rubin, a volunteer at Revolution Books, said the World Can’t Wait campaign and members of Revolution Books are organizing protests and other events for the week.
Among the planned events are two panel discussions about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East to be held at Revolution Books and on campus.
Though Horowitz identified women as the focus of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, Lingenfelder disagreed.
“The week is about exposing Islamo-Fascism—all different aspects of it” Lingenfelder said. “Women’s rights is a focus, but it’s not what the week is all about.”
While the coalition of student groups is opposed to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, it will make no attempt to prevent it from happening, Salahi said.
He said the groups will discuss the broader issues through a documentary screening and a related talk by two professors, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, who are coming to campus to promote their new book.
At the ASUC senate meeting on Wednesday, Independent Senator Nadir Shams proposed a bill denouncing the week. The bill drew much criticism from the week’s proponents.
“It’s outrageous that the student government would restrict the free speech of any student,” Lingenfelder said.
Horowitz characterized obstructive tactics attempting to prevent the week from happening as fascist.
“No one can hold an event but the left,” he said. “The left is doing everything it can to avoid confronting its own fascism.”
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