Brandeis Cancels Honorary Degree for Islam Critic
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic of Islam, is accusing Brandeis University of betraying its founding principles by caving into pressure from faculty and students.
Brandeis planned to honor Ali with an honorary degree, but withdrew following complaints.
"She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women's rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world," the university's statement began. "That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values."
Born in Somalia and raised in a strict Muslim home, Ali renounced her faith after surviving a civil war and suffering genital mutilation, beatings and arranged marriage.
In 2007, she told Reason Magazine "I think we are at war with Islam, and there's no middle ground in wars."
More than 85 of the university's 350 faculty members signed a letter requesting that she not be rewarded an honorary degree.
Sarah Fahmy, a senior at the university and member of its Muslim Student Association, posted a petition on line that garnered thousands of signatures overnight, Fox News reported.
"This is real slap in the fact to Muslim students," Fahmy said. "A university that prides itself on social justice and equality should not hold up someone who is an outright Islamophobic."
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said, "It is unconscionable that such a prestigious university would honor someone with such openly hateful views."
Ali says Brandeis' reversal is a "slur" on her reputation and a betrayal of religious freedom.