An advertisement attacking the Muslim Student Association ran on the fifth page of the Daily Nexus yesterday, prompting the organization to call upon the UCSB administration and others for support.
The half-page ad, purchased by the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Terrorism Awareness Project, alleges the student organization serves as a campus front group for Muslim holy struggle, or “jihad.”
“In its nearly 600 chapters at colleges across the country, the Muslim Student Association postures as just another campus religious and cultural organization,” read the advertisement. “In fact, the MSA is a radical political group that was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the godfather of Al Qaeda and Hamas, to bring the jihad into the heart of American higher education.”
In reaction to the allegations, the MSA took several immediate steps to repudiate the claims. President Faheem Ahmad, a fourth-year history and biology major, said the charges were entirely inaccurate.
“We are obviously not a jihad organization,” Ahmad said. “We are not funded by the Muslim Brotherhood, we receive all of our funding transparently through Finance Board and we are against violence in any form.”
MSA leadership and concerned students also met with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young yesterday evening to discuss drafting a statement denying the claims printed in the ad. Additionally the group called an emergency meeting last night in the Student Resource Building to inform members of possible repercussions and to plan educational events clarifying the position of the organization.
“We called a meeting to let people know MSA is clearing their name and brainstorming ways to respond to the attack,” Ahmad said.
David Horowitz, an occasional Fox News analyst and conservative writer responsible for publishing the advertisement, claims the Muslim Brotherhood created MSA and the group is therefore guilty of sponsoring terrorist activities.
“It’s a soft jihad,” Horowitz said. “MSA does not throw bombs but it invites speakers to come to campus who support terrorists. UCSB MSA is not a cultural organization but a religious and political organization and an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. … People have averted their eyes from the reality that they have a genocidal agenda.”
The Daily Nexus abides by a policy of strict separation between its editorial and advertising departments in order to maintain objective reporting. Opinions expressed in ads do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Nexus staff.
MSA member Aharon Ahmad Morris, a fourth-year biology and black studies major present at last night’s meeting, said the connection the ad made between the student organization and terrorist networks presented a clear danger to the Muslim community.
“The ad links MSA to a front group for jihad,” Morris said. “The underlying [message] is an ambiguous and perceived threat of a UCSB group being a terrorist organization. The ad is not only hurtful but threatening and could incite violence on campus. As a Muslim organization we should be concerned for students and the entire community. It is frightening and upsetting.”
Lillie Kasim, a third-year global studies major who said she is a non-practicing Muslim, said she felt the ad wrongfully depicted the religion as inherently violent.
“I feel like [the ad] attacked not just MSA but Muslims in general and its unfair that that negative representation is being put out there,” Kasim said. “The Muslim religion was originally intended to be a peaceful religion so I find the fact that Muslims are being depicted as terrorists contradictory. It’s false advertising.”
MSA Vice President Hadi Noori, a third-year history major and Daily Nexus cartoonist, said Horowitz’s allegations were destructive and misrepresentative of the organization’s motives.
“The ad leaves students wondering,” Noori said. “It creates fear and turmoil and it’s trying to recreate what is happening in the Middle East. That is not what we want. Our organization wants peace and we want to educate people before we have hate crimes on our campus.”
MSA is currently in the process of issuing an official statement endorsed by several other campus organizations denying the allegations and seeking funding for a Muslim Islamic Awareness week, designed to reestablish MSA’s reputation on campus. Further actions will be discussed at an open meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Middle Eastern Student Resource Center in the SRB.