Phi Beta Cons

Blindness and Bias at NYU: The Helbawy Lockout

Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism says U.S. government officials are rightfully concerned about the “past and level of influence” of Kamal Helbawy, founder of the Muslim Association of Britain, and commends the Department of Homeland Security for denying him entry into this country and thus preventing the “influential Islamic scholar” from participating in a conference at NYU Law School.
According to The New York Sun, DHS questioned Helbawy about his links to the Muslim Brotherhood, an international Islamist organization criticized for funding terrorist organizations.
Among the excerpts provided by Emerson from a speech by Helbawy at a conference of the Muslim Arab Youth Association in December 1992:

…I am going to say something about Imam Hassan al-Banna, peace be upon him, who had been trying to establish 70,000 fighters. And he started with the first battalion with 10,000 fighters and today the Palestinians became strong fighting battalions, let us stand and support this great nation and the future is for Islam…we ask God to release the leader of the Intifada, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, praise be upon him.”
At the same conference Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal also praised Yassin as “’the one who caused the earth to shake from under the feet of the occupiers. Since then, the Palestinian people have shown examples of sacrifice and courage and heroism. Among the proofs are the revolution of the stones, the Molotov cocktails and the knives.’”

In 1991, Emerson further notes, Helbawy spoke at a conference sponsored by the Islamic Committee for Palestine , a front group led by convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative Sami al-Arian. Other speakers at the event included Specially Designated Terrorist and current General Secretary of PIJ, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, and the notorious Egyptian “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdul Rahman (spiritual leader of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, currently serving a life prison sentence for his role in a plot to blow up New York City landmarks).
Officials at NYU Law School, which had organized the conference, were aghast. Paul Cruickshank, a fellow at the law school ‘s Center for Law and Security said, “He’s a really respected guy,” and Karen Greenberg, Executive Director of the Center, commented, “It looks like they are afraid of the words that are going to come out of somebody’s mouth.”
The issue here is not only NYU’s perverse eagerness to provide a prestigious forum for radicals such as Helbawy with documented connections to Islamism. The issue is also, to judge by the coverage of the event, the radically one-sided character of the forum itself.
Was there a panelist included who would inform attendees about Helbawy’s past and connections? It would seem not, as one of the two panelists who presented, Alexis Debat, called Helbawy’s absence “outrageous,” while the other panelist, Nick Fielding, lauded Helawy as a “natural leader” as well as a speech that he heard him deliver as “very warm” and “very Christian.”
And, were any alternative views of Islam to be heard? Again, no. Both panelists had no concerns about the spread of Islam. For example, Debat observed, “Let’s stop hyperventilating about sharia law. When I go to mosques, I hear the same things as when I go to church.”
The NYU Law School has provided us with yet another example of academic blindness and bias in face of the present danger.

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