Correction: The following column was originally titled “Libelous Ad Defames Islamic Community.” It should have been titled “Advertisement Unnecessarily Attacks MSA.” The Nexus regrets this error.
As many of you might be aware, an advertisement was posted in the Daily Nexus on Monday, April 14, that insinuated that the UCSB Muslim Student Association was a front for a global jihad and is founded by the Muslim Brotherhood. A few of you reading this editorial might even know me as the president of the MSA. Let me begin by assuring my fellow Gauchos that the MSA IS NOT a terrorist organization, nor does it have any connection whatsoever to al-Qaeda, Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood.
The MSA at UCSB was founded on the premise of peace and understanding and is meant to be an organization to link Muslims from diverse backgrounds and political beliefs to each other on campus. It is also meant to be an organization that strives to bring a Muslim perspective to campus, especially to explain how Islam is a religion of peace and to show that Muslims are contributing members of society. Yet the advertisement David Horowitz placed in the Nexus has put the MSA in the position of having to defend its own existence and merit and refute the claims that we are a conduit of terrorism.
Throughout this year alone, the MSA has hosted a Ramadan Iftar dinner where everyone was educated about the holy month of Ramadan. We have had barbeques throughout the year in an attempt to reach out to the greater student population of UCSB. We have also held a Comedy Night co-sponsored with Hillel, where Muslim, Jewish and Hindu comedians came together to show that humanity transcends religious boundaries. We held an event that examined the presence of extremism within Islam in an attempt to acknowledge how Muslims around the world have carried out practices that are not concurrent with the teachings of Islam and to examine possible solutions to these problems.
The advertisement has brought completely unfounded fear and suspicion not only upon the organization, but also upon its members. This is an attack the MSA cannot recover from in many ways, as the name of the MSA has become associated with terrorism – albeit arbitrarily. Personally, I dealt with suspicion from members of my classes. One, after seeing the MSA refutation, jokingly asked if he should be fearful of me and if I was really a terrorist. Obviously, my friend was joking, but, in reality, the question of whether or not I, as the president of the MSA, have anything to do with al-Qaeda, Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood will follow me for the rest of my time at UCSB. Due to the erroneous accusation, the female members of the MSA who choose to wear the head scarf – or hijab – are in a position in which they must choose to either honor the tenets of their faith or subject themselves to possible discrimination on campus.
Furthermore, this advertisement will have a detrimental affect upon the MSA for years to come. Potential MSA members will be deterred from intertwining themselves with an organization accused of ties to terrorism. This advertisement further discourages Muslims from integrating into the social, political and academic milieu of UCSB for the same reasons. As students who attend an academic institution, we will emerge afterward as having a voice in the political and social discourse in the United States and, indeed, throughout the entire world. It is our responsibility to ensure baseless accusations like those leveled by Horowitz and his organization do not prevail in tomorrow’s society. As the educated, it is incumbent upon us to question the information that is given to us and really examine whether the statements made by people like Horowitz either contribute to or detract from a better and peaceful world. Now is the time to put an end to the type of alienation occurring as a result of Horowitz’s agenda. It is time to come together, not to come apart.