Profs. on Mideast Turmoil: Blame America, Israel, and Free Speech

In the wake of the al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, the seizure of the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the ensuing anti-American protests and riots throughout the Middle East—the latter ostensibly over an anti-Islam YouTube film trailer that originated in the U.S. months earlier—what do Middle East scholars have to say about the turmoil in the region?

As self-styled supporters of “academic freedom,” are they rushing to defend First Amendment rights instead of kowtowing to Muslim religious sensibilities? Are they denouncing the prospect of self-censorship rather than pushing YouTube to pull the “offending” video by claiming that it constitutes “hate speech?” Are they standing up for religious freedom instead of encouraging Americans to adhere to Sharia law-driven prohibitions on blasphemy? Are they putting aside their anti-Western biases and laying blame where it belongs instead of on America and Israel?

If the following quotes from Middle East studies academics are any indication, the answer to all those questions would be a resounding No!

Let’s take a look at what these “experts” have to say.

On First Amendment rights:

Bruce Lawrence, professor emeritus of religion and member of the Islamic Studies Center’s advisory board, Duke University:

But what about hate speech? Is hate speech not a category that impinges on, and limits, the practice of free speech?

Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

In reality, pieces like the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ [sic] so-called film are best classified as ‘hate speech,’ as they seem to be of the same genre as anti-Semitic films of the 1930’s or Birth of the [sic] Nation KKK movies.

Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies, Oxford University:

[B]ehind the celebration of freedom of speech hides the arrogance of ideologists and well-fed racists who feed off the multiform humiliation of Muslims and to demonstrate the clear ‘superiority’ of their civilisation or the validity of their resistance to the ‘cancer’ of retrograde Islam.

John Brown, adjunct professor of liberal studies, Georgetown University:

Every culture or group of cultures has its own red lines. They might be legal red lines, but they are cultural red lines. There are taboos there are things people cannot say in public. In my experience, you just don’t speak badly of the Prophet Muhammad. It just does not happen.

John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University:

Indeed, it’s important to remember that, for Muslims, Mohammed is the ideal Muslim, as it was. He’s the living Quran. You know, he’s the model, you know. And so to go after him, OK, is to be the ultimate form, you know, the ultimate form of disrespect. It would be the ultimate blasphemy. . . . I think there’s a recognition of the freedom of speech, but you know, you still get into freedom of speech and then what are the consequences of it? . . . And so what you really have is a situation where this belongs to the genre of Islam-aphobia, which is just like [sic] anti-Semitic.

As’ad AbuKhalil, professor of political science, California State University, Stanislaus:

U.S. officials have been really insulting my intelligence all week with talk of the ‘freedom of speech’ that we have here in the U.S. that Muslims don’t understand. . . . They understand that the U.S. government has made it illegal for anyone to express support for Hamas and Hizbullah in the U.S.  Muslim[s] do understand that the U.S. has banned TV channels [Hezbollah’s Al-Manar and Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV] from the U.S. because they deemed them offensive to Israel. . . . We remember that the Bush administration asked all U.S. news media after Sept. 11 to refrain from airing any Bin Laden tapes.

Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

Freedom of speech falls alongside other freedoms to live and be free from bombs falling on people’s heads and to be free from occupations . . . I will take free speech comments seriously when others take people’s freedom of life and dignity and to be free from occupation just as seriously.

On why YouTube should pull the video, “Innocence of Muslims”:

Hatem Bazian, Near Eastern studies senior lecturer, University of California, Berkeley:

Take the ethical high ground and say, ‘yes, I understand that I have the legal right to do it. But ethically, I need to actually say no to it, because it does not represent the best of our values.’ I would say even to put it in the recycling bin would be an insult to the recycling bin.

John Brown, adjunct professor of liberal studies, Georgetown University:

This movie reached new depths . . . I find it difficult that the most insulting thing ever made about the Prophet Muhammad in the history of Western civilization, as far as I know, doesn’t violate usage [Youtube usage] policy.

On blaming America, and Israel, and the West:

Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies and director of the Middle East studies program, University of San Francisco:

It is extremely unlikely that such vitriolic anti-American protests would have taken place were it not for decades of U.S. support, during both Republican and Democratic administrations, of allied dictatorships and the Israeli occupation, not to mention the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the ongoing military strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.

John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University:

The terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three embassy staff, and the Cairo riots seem similar but share in common the incitement and exploitation of popular outrage among many Muslims, as we have witnessed during the Salman Rushdie and Danish cartoons affairs. They exploit deep seated popular anti-American sentiment, based on decades of resentment over US and European foreign policies in the Middle East.

Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan:

The touchiness of Muslims about assaults on the Prophet Muhammad is in part rooted in centuries of Western colonialism and neo-colonialism during which their religion was routinely denounced as barbaric by the people ruling and lording it over them.

Mark LeVine, professor of history, University of California, Irvine:

Muslims in Egypt, Libya and around the world equally look at American actions, from sanctions against and then an invasion of Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and sent the country back to the Stone Age, to unflinching support for Israel and all the Arab authoritarian regimes (secular and royal alike) and drone strikes that always seem to kill unintended civilians ‘by mistake,’ and wonder with equal bewilderment how ‘we’ can be so barbaric and uncivilized.

Hamid Dabashi, Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University:

Sam Bacile [the pseudonym for the alleged filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula] is integral to a pattern, an Islamophobic streak of racism that runs deep into American culture.

Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan:

From the 9/11 attacks to the embassy burnings of this past week, the U.S. pays the price for supporting the subjection of the Palestinians in widespread hatred for it from the Muslim world.

On downplaying the violent reaction of the Muslim world:

Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, co-author, with Georgetown University’s John Esposito, of Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, and nonresident senior public policy scholar at the American University of Beirut:

So I think it would just be too much of a generalization to say Muslims react violently when they’re offended, whereas everyone else reacts peacefully. I think that riots and protests turn violent all over the world.


The other thing to keep in mind is that, sometimes, when there are offensive materials here in this country, people do protest against them and I think that that’s also part of freedom of speech that we have to look at and respect.

Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan:

[D]efending the Prophet and defending the post-colonial nation are for the most part indistinguishable, and being touchy over slights to national identity (and yes, Muslimness is a kind of national identity in today’s world) is hardly confined to Muslims.

Bruce Lawrence, emeritus professor of religion and member of the Islamic Studies Center’s advisory board, Duke University:

Should Muslim sensitivities be viewed any differently from their Jewish or Christian counterparts? Muslims do monitor their prophet. His legacy has been challenged within Islam at many levels, but his basic character has not been besmirched with the degree of ill will, bordering on savagery, that has been seen in the past 12 years.

Whether it be John Esposito toeing the line of his Wahhabi funders; Omid Safi engaging in irresponsible, inflammatory rhetoric; Stephen Zunes blaming the U.S. and Israel for all that’s wrong with the world; Dalia Mogahed whitewashing Islamism; As’ad AbuKhalil justifying violence; Mark LeVine exhibiting contempt for America; or Juan Cole displaying the same disregard for the First Amendment he showed when he called for the U.S. government to shut down Fox News these are the ideologues to whom the Western media turns for insight into the Middle East. Anyone hoping to understand the turmoil in the region as the consequences of the “Arab Spring” continue to unfold should look elsewhere.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.  

  • http://frontpage richard sherman

    Muhammad had 900 unarmed Jews decapitated at Quaraza..To revere a sociopath you must be a sociopath…

    • Jana

      You're right Richard. Muhammad is a murderer, a rapist, a pedophile, a criminal and a liar and practiced genocide, banditry, waging aggressive war against non-Muslims and advocated his followers to commit acts of treason against those non-Muslim nations in which they lived. And Muhammad is, according to Esposito’s erudite explanation, " You know, he’s the model, you know" and so turns them ALL into sociopaths

  • oldtimer

    Truth is not hate speech If, so, than muslims calling all non-muslims infidels, and shouting death to all infidels is also hate speech. Free speech, or prohibition of it, applies equally to ALL.

  • Danny Caplan

    You can be certain that if college professors take a position, it will be (accurately) 180 degrees away from what is moral. In fact, one way to almost completely ensure that you are living a moral life, is to find out what the positions are on any given issue in academia, and then do or advocate the opposite. That technique can also be used to ascertain what is courageous, for there are no greater cowards than college professors…except for maybe some pitiful souls in Hollywood.

  • Omar

    Let me ask this about Stephen Zunes: Does he support the Iranian/ Russian/ Chinese-backed dictatorship in Syria and the Chinese-backed dictatorship in Sudan? Does he support and/or justify the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam's regime in Iraq (as well as Saddam's attempted occupation of Kuwait), Communist China's occupation of Tibet and the regimes in Iran, China, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Gaza, the West Bank, Sudan, Belarus, North Korea, Burma (Myanmar) and other despotic, anti-freedom, anti-democracy and anti-Western regimes? I bet he supports all of the above because he is an anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-democracy, anti-freedom, and pro-totalitarian Stalinist/Maoist "academic" who just likes to export his Communist/Islamist propaganda on the American people as well as the people of the world. He probably supports King George III and the Redcoats during the American Revolution conflict because he views America as the "Great Satan". Well let me respond to Zunes and his Stalinist/Maoist/Islamist propaganda: He will not succeed at all. America, Britain, Israel and the rest of the free world support freedom, democracy, peace and stability, while Zunes' idols support tyranny, imperialism, oppression and instability. Israel, the only democratic state in the Middle East (where everyone is treated equally under the law, unlike Israel's enemies), has a right to exist and is trying to defend its existence, while the Islamists that Zunes not only want Israel destroyed, but also want world domination. The Islamists (and Zunes) want a world where women are treated like chattel, where homosexuals are lynched for being homosexual, and where Jews and other religions (as well as non-religious people) are not allowed in. While the majority of the world want freedom and Western-style democracy, Communist and Islamist apologists like Zunes want a world dominated by totalitarianism and oppression. Zunes doesn't care about "peace". What Zunes really wants is a world dominated by Marxism and Sharia law, both of which Zunes supports. It is time for the people to confront and defeat Zunes' dangerous, totalitarian agenda.

  • Omar

    Likewise, Mark LeVine supports Russian/Chinese imperialism because he support Stalinism/Maoism. He supports the Assad family dictatorship and other Communist and Islamist regimes because they support Marxism and Sharia law, both of which LeVine supports.

    • judith grayson

      as regards Mark "LeVine" someone (besides his unpaid student food taster) should mention to him that "LeVine" is Levine. or, Levin. the very worst are self-hating jews. they're demonic.

  • Omar

    I say blame all of our problems in the world on Communists (and other far-left individuals and groups), Islamists and their sympathizers. I also say blame the Middle East problems on the so-called "Palestinians" (the invented people), who do not deserve a state given their support for Hamas and other Islamists in the region. Communism and Islamism are like deadly diseases to the world and the so-called "peace scholars" are their supporters. America and the free world are the solutions to the world's problems. That's the reality.

    • Dana

      Beautifully put, Omar. America and the free world is needed by all.

      • Dana

        Oops. Before any language cops hit me. "is" should be "are".

  • ross1948

    You'll be pleased to note that Indonesia's leading moderate ( ! ) Muslim reckons it'sall down to a wicked scheme 'deliberately' arranged by 'Counter-Islam!'

  • Marty

    Most of these aren't real academics, but, rather, overpaid propagandists for saudi money. I belong to that part of the academy that believes in presenting facts to our students, accepting and encouraging criticism and debate, and refusing to allow sharia law to interfere with adherence to the First Amendment. islam in my classes is considered in the same totalitarian category as communism and fascism. Its bigotry, genocidal history, current imperialism, and anti-semitism along with its contempt for and fear of democracy is fully discussed in the classroom. Please don't judge academics by the ideologues named in this article.

    • Omar

      Those so-called "academics" are Stalinist/Maoist radicals who support Islamism. The far-left and the Islamists want a world where Marxism and Sharia are the laws of the planet. It is the duty of the free world to confront and defeat the unholy alliance of the far-left and the Islamists.

  • Jason Kennedy

    Come on. Don't pretend this is a First Amendment issue. If this video had been about Jews, would you be writing here, castigating US academics who failed to defend its right to be heard?

    No, you'd be here denouncing them as typical leftie-anti-Semites.

    • Drakken

      You really need to wake up to the facts, throw out the words jew or Israel to a muslim and you can see their true colors come out in the shape of a frothing at the mouth true jihadist. Anything these whacademics are for, you can be sure they are against western values.

    • Omar

      Those so-called "academics" are not academics. They are Marxist radicals who support Stalinism/Maoism and Islamism. The radical "academics" want a world dominated by Marxism and Sharia. That's the reality.

    • elixelx

      @Jason Kennedy
      Yes we'd be complaining that it was anti-semitic (nothing new) and of course we'd be sodomizing ambassadors beheading SEALS burning embassies, slaughtering some co-religionists for good measure and generally behaving like the barbarians and savages you would like to condemn.
      So yes, to re-phrase your thought; why are you unable to condemn the behaviour of Muslims behaving badly when you would be the first to scream about Jews doing the same?

  • Cjlaw

    The Prof's quoted really need a history lesson, although I think this group is too far gone to change. We are in the beginning of the thrid grand Jihad. It has happened on a large scale twice before. Last time the Jihad was beat back at the gates of Vienna in 1683. Islam is expanding across the world with a Billion and half members and growing. No matter how nice the west plays they will not stop until Sharia is the law that rules the world.

    • The Deacon

      When will the United States sober up?

      To extend a hand to these people is to hand our country over to them…just look at what is happening today. Our Constitutional system has literally been stymied by these coarse, uncivilized reprobates. The judges, senators, congressmen and others who pander to these people have no one to blame but themselves when sharia is, indeed, established in our society. And the posers (Clintons, Obamas, et al) who argue so outspokenly over "women's rights" and their myth of inaccessibility to birth control have obviously not witnessed the public beheading of a woman who may have done something as horrible as try to go to school or walk next to someone who is not a family member.

      Praise God, Yahweh, The Ancient of Days, Jesus… There IS a battle today between good and evil…

      The God of ALL will never be defeated.
      Praise Him… for from Him, all blessings flow!

    • surj1936

      Those so called 'proffesors'' are nothing but rotten apples, in our society. They live in the world of their own. I say F&*k them. see

    • surj1936

      " No matter how nice the West plays they will not stop until Sharia is the law that rules the world " You are right. This is from muslim's Quran Sura 2:193 " Fight against them[Infidels/kafurs] until idolatry is no more and Allah's religion reigns supreme " That is what muslims have been try to achieve since the times of their so called Mo-ham-mad. These so called prof are brainwashed nutters.

  • Francis D Orbin Jr.


  • Thomas Wells

    These pathetic profs are followers of the islamic profit.

  • Ghostwriter

    These professors are idiots. We have free speech rights in this country. Just because a bunch of fanatics don't like it,doesn't mean we have to bend to their idiocy. Sorry,but my free speech rights are just as valid as anyone else's.

    • Omar

      All of those "professors" want a world dominated by Marxism and Sharia. The free world needs to defeat the unholy alliance of the far-left and the Islamists.

  • Wallace Brand

    An absolute ban on criticism of Islam or Mohammed, punishable by death, is basic to Sharia law; that is the law of Egypt. Is it surprising that Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood wants the US to impose Sharia law on critics of Islam or Mohammed. There is much evidence that the Muslim Brother has sponsored a conspiracy with the goal of replacing our laws with Sharia law. This is evidence admitted in a criminal proceeding.

    Obama contributed to the revitalization of the Muslim Brotherhood despite the evidence found in Virginia of their attempt to subvert the Federal Government from within and despite evidence of a 100 year plan for world domination of sharia law found by Swiss authorities in 2005.  It is impossible to think that this evidence was not available to the President of the United States. Notwithstanding this evidence,  in Cairo, Obama insisted on having the leadership of Muslim Brotherhood (a party banned by Egypt) attend his talk — he had them put in the front row.  He contributed to the downfall of the Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt  by calling for his prompt resignation during the protests in Tahrir Square.  

    In the United States, in Herndon Virginia, the FBI raided a house belonging to two people that had been found photographing the bridge supports of the Annapolis Bay Bridge. They found a document showing a conspiracy of the Muslim Brotherhood to engage in a "grand jihad" eliminating and destroying the Western civilization FROM WITHIN, and "sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions." [my emphasis]  This language appeared in a document entitled "An Explanatory Memorandum On the General Strategic Goal for the Group In North America" The document was written by Mohammed Akram who sent it to the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood for their comment and approval, stating that it was an update and restatement of the plan they had agreed to in 1987.  The document was submitted in evidence in the Holy Land Foundation case;  its authenticity was not disputed.  

    There is additional evidence of the Muslim Brotherhood's plan for conquest of the West. It can be found in a document found by Swiss authorities in 2005. The only article written about it is in French. La conquête de l'Occident: Le projet secret des Islamistes (Paris: Le Seuil, 2005), pp. 193-205. that I think means "The conquest of the West: The Secret Project of the Islamists. You can find a translation of the document at:… It outlines a 100 year plan for world domination under Sharia. Patrick Poole tells us a little more about the document in an article entitled "The Muslim Brotherhood Project.… With all this available information indicating a legitimate concern with the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood engaging in subversion, and attempting world domination, Michele Bachmann is berated by the Democrats and the media for asking the Inspector Generals of several Federal Departments or agencies to investigate whether the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our government. These criticisms of Bachman never mention the evidence submitted in the Holy Land Foundation case — they say instead there is absolutely no reason for such an investigation.

    And even though CAIR, and other mainstream muslim organizations were named in the Holy Land Foundation case as "unindicted co-conspirators", the US Department of Justice has dropped investigation of them so we will never know whether they should be indicted. By the time any investigation is renewed, all the documents will be gone and their computer memories will have encountered strong magnets. 

    It is the law in Egypt that one cannot criticize Islam or Mohammed on pain of death. Morsi wants us to import that rule of law into the US. That is not surprizing. The Muslim Brotherhood as shown above, was already doing what it could to accomplish the same objective by subversion. Now they do it by threats of violence unless we relinquish our First Amendment rights — known as "extortion" in this country. No, Morsi's desire for the US to impose Sharia is not surprising. Will he next tell us that we have to kill homosexuals, stone adulterers, cut of one of the hands and one foot of thieves, and killl apostates?

    • WilliamJamesWard

      …………and Morsi is paised and supported by Mullah Obama………….William

  • Wallace Brand

    The links to Patrick Poole's story at Front Page Magazine and the English translation of the Project documents are at… and… respectively. The links in the earlier post, above, got distorted in posting.

  • Wallace Brand

    They are distorted once again. To get workable links, remove the last three periods and add ARTID=4475 for one of the links, and 4476 for the other.

  • Gary Lee

    Friday, 10/05/12 common era

    After reading the twisted and illogical remarks of these egghead professors, I'm sure glad that I am a junior college dropout.


    Why doesn't the UN make a law that safeguards the rights and life of the ex-muslims ? Why doesn't the UN make a law that safeguards the rights and life of the ex-muslims ? Why doesn't the UN make a law that safeguards the rights and life of the ex-muslims ? Why doesn't the UN make a law that safeguards the rights and life of the ex-muslims ? Why doesn't the UN make a law that safeguards the rights and life of the ex-muslims ? Why doesn't the UN make a law that safeguards the rights and life of the ex-muslims ? Why doesn't the UN make a law that safeguards the rights and life of the ex-muslims ?


    We have to watch their reactions …. It's so maccarbly funny…..
    what to do ? Not ask these questions ?
    Not even for the children ? Because muslim sentiments might be hurt ?
    Because the little ones’ screams are silent ? Because we don’t want to hurt muslim feelings ?
    Do you even know what that means ???
    Hence the stunting of the muslim psyche. Islam is coming.
    Islam has to be damned and banned.
    There is no other way.
    We have to rescue the children.

  • guest

    So many of these comments blame Western supported dictatorships in the Middle East, while completely ignoring the Qur'an, which calls upon Muslims to murder people who criticize their Prophet, and whose prescripions have been carried out whenever they have felt the power to do so. Now that the US has taken a stance of backing off, and "unbullying" and allowing the dictatorships to fall and allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb, they are feeling their power all over again, and what we are seeing is simply the acting out by the Islamists of an extension of this aspect of Sharia across the globe, because they think that they can.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The left has driven out of Universities all who do not partake of their indoctrinational socialist,marxist,
    Islamist screeds and anti-American, anti-Israel posturing and hate. We spend to much money
    on education in America……………it's gotten to be like paying $1000.00 for and apple…….and
    yes and apple with worms…………………..William

  • garyfouse

    This is what happens when you get Saudi Arabia investing all that oil money into creating ME Studies in universities around the nation. You get infested with these leftist, Israel-haters. Other opinions are not welcomed. The focal point of all the anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Semitic agitation is on our campuses. The whole UC system is a joke in this regard. This philosophy creates a hostile campus for any Jewish student who supports Israel.

    I teach part-time at UCI, and I have seen it and heard it. Meanwhile the whole UC administration wrings its hands.

  • Hammad Aamir