Hero Professor Al-Arian Persecuted for Political Beliefs

This is the latest on Professor Sami Al-Arian’s acquittal on most of the terrorism charges.

Imagine a country indicting individuals who are involved in another country’s dispute in a manner that is obviously demonstrating a lack of neutrality. It is this devoted and blind partiality toward Israeli national security interests that in part contributed to the attacks on Sept. 11 and the continued war between civilisations.

The University of South Florida should be condemned for firing him for his political beliefs that opposed Israeli imperialism in 2003. The cover of his indictment was used to terminate his employment. The reckless abandonment of academic integrity and honour by Judy Genshaft, then president of South Florida, cannot be overestimated. I recognise she was implementing a 12-1 vote of her board of trustees but she should have resigned and not allowed herself to allow political correctness lead to such an egregious violation of basic human rights. While she said she was concerned about “disruptions,” universities should not engage in this type of persecution for fear of disruption. If one wants to live in a land without disruption, perhaps one might wish to live in North Korea (a nation that the U.S. should not harm) or other closed states where intellectual protest is not allowed.

An indictment is not a conviction. This man’s academic freedom was violated whether he was a citizen or not. While the AAUP Redbook may apply to citizens, honour and decency requires that universities do not discriminate against the professorate regardless of citizenship or resident status. I am one of the few professors in this country that can somewhat identify with Professor Al-Arian. I urge him and all others who are part of the American professorate to demand freedom of expression, to recognise controversy may indeed benefit the pursuit of truth and to remain strong and unyielding in one’s determination not to be silenced or marginalised.

The Tampa jury should be commended for its bravery and dedication to justice. The Bush administration that brought these indictments should be condemned for its vicious persecution of innocent Muslims daring to oppose Israeli aggression. However, I do not support Palestinian Islamic Jihad or any use of force to resolve international disputes or controversies.

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