The Muslim Students Association of Pennsylvania State University (MSA-PSU) was founded in February 1964 by four students (who were natives of Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, and Indonesia) “with a vision to create a haven for Muslims on campus and to spread awareness and tolerance for Islam.”78 Today the Penn State student body includes more than 1,000 Muslims, many of whom are MSA members.
MSA-PSU’s mission is “to realize Islam through words, actions, and intentions to Muslims and non-Muslims on the Penn State campus and in the society at large for the love of God.”79 In 2006 the organization was the recipient of the Paul Robeson Award – named after the Stalinist singer and actor.80
The MSA-PSU website addresses the issue of women’s rights in Islam in a disingenuous fashion: “Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property, receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. Men and women are to be respected equally. . . . (In fact, the Koran states that “men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other” Qur’an 4:34; that a woman is like a field to be used by a man as he wills 2:223; that a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a man 2:282; that a son’s inheritance should be twice the size of a daughter’s 4:11; that a man may marry up to four wives and may have sex with slave girls also 4:3; and that husbands may beat disobedient wives 4:34.) 81
The MSA-PSU website also addresses the topic of jihad in a deceptive way, minimizing the militaristic implications of the term and wrongly characterizing jihad as a tradition with direct parallels in other faiths: “Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. … ‘Jihad’ does not mean ‘holy war.’ Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle, and exert effort. It is a central and broad concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense …, or fighting against tyranny or oppression.”82
Guest speakers who have appeared at MSA-PSU events include:
• Ingrid Mattson, President of the Islamic Society of North America’s U.S. office. (ISNA is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, and part of the Brotherhood’s stated plan to carry out “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion Islam is made victorious over all other religions.”) In a September 2002 interview with PBS, Mattson stated that she did not see “any difference between certain Christian leaders’ criticisms of Islam and of al-Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden using Islamic theology to justify violence against Americans.”83
• Sheikh Khalid Yasin: This U.S.-born Muslim convert has said that “if you don’t have a people that is governed by Sharia, then you have a lawless people”; that a secular Islamic state absolutely “cannot work”; that Sharia should become the law of the land in all nations because Allah “is the best lawgiver”; that “there’s no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend; that “there has been no evidence that has surfaced, no bona fide irrevocable, irrefutable evidence that had been surfaced that showed that there is a group called al-Qaeda that did the September 11 bombings;” that “we now know” that the World Trade Center fell not as a result of the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers, but rather “from internal explosive charges,the same way it’s done in a construction site”; and that homosexuals should be killed because the Koran mandates it.84
In October 2007, MSA PSU organized a “Peace Not Prejudice” seminar series to counter the Terrorism Awareness Project’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week activities of that same month. The organization claimed that any discussion centered on the term “Islamo-fascism” was unacceptable because it “trespasses the frontiers of freedom of speech that is bounded by the infringement of other people’s rights with respect to freedom of belief and falsified attack on their personal integrity.”85
Simultaneously embracing and rejecting the concept of free speech rights, MSA-PSU stated: “We believe Penn State University, as an institution of learning, should provide an opportunity for all to express opinions in a safe and rational way. We fear, however, that this Islamophobic program will have hazardous consequences on the Penn State community. It is important to distinguish between freedom of speech and hate speech.”86
Meanwhile, the featured speakers at MSA-PSU’s “Peace Not Prejudice” campaign included the following individuals:
• Raeed Tayeh: In its publicity for Tayeh’s appearance, MSA-PSU described him as “an American-born Muslim and former head of the public relations office of the Muslim American Society” who “also served as communications director for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.”87 The organization made no mention of Tayeh’s prior connections to the Islamic Association for Palestine and the American Muslims for Jerusalem,88 both of which had ties to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the nowdefunct American fundraising arm of Hamas. Nor did it mention that Tayeh was also a research fellow for another Hamas front group, the United Association for Studies and Research; nor that Rep. McKinney had fired Tayeh after the latter had written a letter to The Hill complaining about the “pro-Israeli lawmakers” whose “emotional attachments to Israel” constituted an “Israeli occupation of … Congress”; nor that on another occasion, Tayeh had said: “Oh how I dream of that wonderful day, when our Palestinian flags are raised … when the refugees return, and when Zionism will die.”89
• Dr. Mehdi Noorbaksh: In its publicity for Noorbaksh’s appearance, MSA-PSU described him as an “Associate Professor of International Affairs at Harrisburg University” who has “published extensively on the Middle East politics.” But the organization made no mention of the fact that Noorbaksh had criticized the Danish newspaper that had published some cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad for its “selective targeting” of “the very sanctity of the Muslim faith”; and that he flatly rejects the Western notion that freedom of speech should be protected in cases where it shows insufficient “respect for the belief held by 1.2 billion Muslim followers.”
• Lawrence Davidson: This Associate Professor of History at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, who actively participates with his colleagues in an academic boycott of Israel, has condemned Israel’s “barbarism”; stated that Israel is guilty of “killing, robbing and ethnic cleansing” against Palestinian Arabs; derided Israel’s “evolution … into a Jewish fascist state”; and asserted that Israeli Jews “will continue to steal other people’s land, colonize it in violation of international law, and slowly but surely grind Palestinian culture into dust.”90
84 http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/relrpt/stories s942897.htm
87 http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individual Profile.