Student tries to shut out ‘hate-mongering’ speaker, but Rutgers stands firm
NEW BRUNSWICK — A Rutgers graduate and Middle East expert accused of being an "Islamophobe" by a student is still expected to appear next week at a campus discussion.
Lisa Daftari, founder of the news website The Foreign Desk and a frequent Fox News Channel contributor, is scheduled to appear at an event presented by the Rutgers Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA) called Radicalism on College Campuses.
Daftari, who was born to Iranian Jewish parents in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers in 2002, will speak for 30 minutes “focusing on free speech” and facilitating a conversation around the question “how can we use our college campuses as a place of learning, thinking, and leadership rather than violence, hatred, and radicalism" followed by a Q&A session, according to the website.
Student Adeel Ahmed posted a Change.org online petition calling for the cancellation of the event.
A spokesman for Rutgers has not yet returned a message seeking clarification about how Daftari's appearance is being funded.
“Islamic terror takes its guidance and teachings from the Quran, which is Sharia law. When you go to the mosque and you’re part of a community, and you want to feel important and relevant, and want to give back to the cause -- [ISIS] recruits you. You say - I can be an ISIS wife," Abdeel quotes Daftari as saying in a Heritage Foundation speech, which he called "hate mongering."
"This statement, equating Muslims everywhere with ISIS, is undoubtedly hate-mongering. This is only a small sample of the type of harmful rhetoric Daftari has advanced and shared on various media platforms," Abdeel wrote on the petition..
As of early Thursday afternoon less than 1,500 people had signed the petition.
"I believe my university should not be hosting a speaker who's views insult and demean a large portion of the student population," one person who signed wrote.
"[S]ounds like she's a b****," another wrote.
Daftari posted a response to the petition on her Facebook page.
"Sadly, students at Rutgers are threatening to stop my speech by slanderously & preposterously calling me an 'Islamophobe' after I've spent over a decade defending human rights in Muslim countries. Ironically, my talk is on free speech on campus. Guess speech is not free for the intolerant & ignorant."
The UAA defended Daftari's program in a statement on their Twitter account and gave no indication it will be canceled.
"We invite a variety of speakers to campus with varying backgrounds and professional expertise. Our events are structured to allow all participants to engage in conversation, voice their points of view and generate a public debate about important issues," the UAA statement said.
Vice Chancellor Ben.Sifuentes-Jauregui said the "tough conversations" over Daftari is exactly what he hoped would happen.
"If these issues are not brought to the forefront and given a chance to be debated then they may continue to stay buried. Bringing a professional to campus who can help us spark interest on the topic and call attention to a particular issue is important."