Conservative author David Horowitz confirmed Friday night that he plans to speak on Columbia’s campus as part of a “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” speaking tour.
Horowitz, CC ’59, said that he will introduce an event featuring Fox News Channel reporter Sean Hannity on Friday, Oct. 26th. Hannity said he was invited to speak by Chris Kulawik, CC ’08 and president of the Columbia University College Republicans.
Horowitz said that during his speech, he would discuss how “Islamo-fascists have killed more Muslims than any other group” and “the hate campaign that has been launched by progressives against this week.”
“Why is it so controversial to talk about Islamic fascists?” he asked in a phone interview. “Why is it an embargoed question?”
Jonathan Backer, CC ’10 and communications director for the Columbia University College Democrats, said that the Dems were planning to host an alternative event to counter Horowitz’s speech, which he said would be conducted with “a message of hate behind it.”
“We want to use this as an opportunity to respond to Islamo-Fascism week ... [and] to counter that sort of rhetoric in the media,” Backer said.
Horowitz said that he is interested in hearing from students, including those who disagree with him, on the oppression of women and moderate Muslims in Islamic nations.
Ali Shafei, CC ’10 and president of Turath, said that Horowitz does not represent moderate Muslims as he claims. “The week and the whole premise behind the week is an inherently racist one,” Shafei said. “It’s not aimed at one part of minority extremists... it’s giving a negative image of the religion itself.”
“My agenda is to open up a debate, it’s not to shut it down,” Horowitz said. “If somebody want to have a panel as to whether Islamo-facism is a fair name, I’m game. I’ll do it that day.”
On the Hannity & Colmes show earlier this week, Hannity said that he doubted he would be “very welcomed” on campus, pointing to last year’s speech by Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist and the University’s handling of punishing those protesters who rushed the stage, ending the speech.
“They had everything on tape, they could have gotten every student, there could have been repercussions for interrupting the speech of an invited guest. Now, I don’t know what to expect when I get up there, but we will be bringing Fox cameras when we show up at Columbia University,” Hannity said on the air, adding, “I better start working out in case I get attacked.”
Horowitz stated in an e-mail that he had a special interest in speaking at Columbia because “It’s my alma mater, and I sent my son there.”
Shafei said that Horowitz’s invitation, which comes shortly after the appearance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has put Muslim students in a difficult and unfair position. “Muslim and Arab students are not given a choice to chose a moderate middle,” Shafei said. “You’re either choosing to support someone who makes a bunch of controversial statements in the name of your religion ...the other choice is to listen to someone who’s known to have strongly negative feelings about your religion,” he said. “The fact that we’re left to chose between these extremes indicates a problem with the University itself ...Narrative should be hallmarked by notion of moderation and we’re really not seeing that.”
Josh Rosner, CC ’08 and president of Hillel, declined to comment, saying that the board would discuss how to react at its regularly-scheduled meeting tonight.
A piece that Horowitz co-wrote for the Terrorism Awareness Project, titled “Why Islamo-Fascism?,” stated that Islamo-fascists—whom the piece described as radical, totalitarian Muslim jihadists—are waging war against moderate Muslims in order to impose an international theocracy.
“No one who wants to see moderate Muslims succeed in their efforts to resist the oppressive doctrines of the Islamo-fascists should oppose the use of this term. Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is an effort to educate the general public about the enemy we face, and, in the process, to give moderate Muslims support in their struggle,” the article states.
Horowitz last spoke on campus in an event on academic freedom hosted by the College Republicans in the spring of 2005. The Republicans had booked the Lerner cinema from noon to 1:30 p.m. on the day of the speech for a speaking event. Kulawik and board members of the College Republicans declined to comment.