Much like our fellow Yalies in the Buckley Program, Muslims on campus believe in the value of free speech. In fact, we are proud to be a part of the Yale community because of the culture it promotes, one that protects student freedoms. We know that our university stands up for its students and encourages them to act on their values — in faith and ideology.

But when the Muslim Students Association learned of the Buckley Program’s decision to host an event with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, we and many other groups decided to write a letter expressing our concerns.

We understand that many Yalies are questioning the letter we released and our process for verifying signatories. We want to take this opportunity to tell the story of our reaction to the announcement of Hirsi Ali’s visit, from the beginning. We have no reason to hide what has transpired and we encourage those hearing rumors to reach out to us for the truth.

We first heard about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s visit to campus through a member of the MSA. We were surprised to see that a group of our fellow Yalies would invite a speaker so well-known for her hate speech and assumed that they must not have been aware of the extent of her intolerance.

At a meeting with the president of the Buckley Program, I expressed my concerns about the speaker and explained how offensive many people find her commentary. I explained my view that Hirsi Ali does not have the scholarly credentials to speak on Islam and asked that the event be limited to subjects she can speak on from her personal experiences. I also requested that another speaker be included in the discussion with Hirsi Ali to provide a more balanced talk. I would like to clarify that I certainly was not asking for a disinvitation or cancellation.

Ultimately, the MSA decided to draft a letter expressing our concerns about Hirsi Ali’s visit. We did our best to be deliberate and fair in reaching out to organizations and asking them to sign the letter.

We first asked club presidents to tentatively add their signatures after we had explained the situation and released a portion of the letter. At the time, we did not send out the full document, as it was still undergoing edits. We then invited all club presidents who had tentatively signed the letter to a meeting at which we planned to finalize the letter by making appropriate edits and discussing any concerns club presidents voiced.

We notified all groups that had tentatively signed that we would send the final version of the letter, with requested edits, by 12:00 a.m. that night. All clubs were told they had until 1:00 a.m. to take back their signatures before the letter would be released, and we had confirmed at the meeting that the late timing would not be an issue for signatories.

We put in a sincere effort to respect the requests of all groups that raised concerns and we did our best to accurately represent everyone involved. Because of the countless emails we had been receiving, we may have miscommunicated with some groups that had provided tentative signatures. We are truly sorry for any trouble this may have caused and we have already sent out a number of emails clarifying and apologizing to the relevant groups.

Could we have sent additional confirmation emails to signatories? Probably. Could we have arranged for an alternative meeting time for those student groups that could not attend to review the letter? Most likely. As a group of full time students with less than two weeks to coordinate with over 100 people, we were doing our best to handle email after email on this issue. It was very difficult and we ask that our fellow Yalies understand that.

We are encouraged by the amount of solidarity that our classmates have shown throughout this endeavor, and we are overwhelmed by the support our peers and staff have given us. We are inspired by the number of Yalies who decided to stand up for a cause, regardless of whether they had personal ties to it or not. We believe that we have taken steps to promote student activism, and we hope our classmates continue to unite around causes that help further coexistence and freedom of expression on Yale’s campus in the future.

Abrar Omeish is a sophomore in Branford College. Her views do not represent those of the Muslim Students Association. Contact her at abrar.omeish@yale.edu.

  • phantomllama

    What on earth is a ‘tentative signature’? How can anyone give their approval to something that they haven’t seen?

    And why hasn’t this been corrected by way of an email to the entire campus? If you make incorrect claims about individuals or groups in public you have the responsibility to correct them in the same arena.

    • disqus

      why would they send to the entire campus when the entire campus didn’t get the original email?

  • Arafat

    Abrar writes, “We were surprised to see that a group of our fellow Yalies would invite a
    speaker so well-known for her hate speech and assumed that they must
    not have been aware of the extent of her intolerance.”

    Here are some quotes from Ayaan. Hate speech? No. She speaks the truth and it is this that apparently offends the MSA.
    =======

    “Many
    well-meaning Dutch people have told me in all earnestness that nothing in
    Islamic culture incites abuse of women, that this is just a terrible
    misunderstanding. Men all over the world beat their women, I am constantly
    informed. In reality, these Westerners are the ones who misunderstand Islam.
    The Quaran mandates these punishments. It gives a legitimate basis for abuse,
    so that the perpetrators feel no shame and are not hounded by their conscience
    of their community. I wanted my art exhibit to make it difficult for people to
    look away from this problem. I wanted secular, non-Muslim people to stop
    kidding themselves that “Islam is peace and tolerance.”

    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

    =============

    “Islam
    was like a mental cage. At first, when you open the door, the caged bird stays
    inside: it is frightened. It has internalized its imprisonment. It takes time
    for bird to escape, even after someone has opened the doors to its cage.”

    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

    ===========

    “Wishful
    thinking about the peaceful tolerance of Islam cannot interpret away this
    reality: hands are still cut off, women still stoned and enslaved, just as the
    Prophet Muhammad decided centuries ago.”

    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

    ===========

    “By
    declaring our Prophet infallible and not permitting ourselves to question him,
    we Muslims had set up a static tyranny. The Prophet Muhammad attempted to
    legislate every aspect of life. By adhering to his rules of what is permitted
    and what is forbidden, we Muslims supressed the freedom to think for ourselves
    and to act as we chose. We froze the moral outlook of billions of people into
    the mind-set of the Arab desert in the seventh century. We were not just
    servants of Allah, we were slaves.”

    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

  • aaleli

    “We are inspired by the number of Yalies who decided to stand up for a cause, regardless of whether they had personal ties to it or not.”

    You mean the “cause” of trampling on the rights of others to speak freely?

  • Admiral_Ackbar

    Um, saying you respect freedom of speech and then saying you want the speech to be limited to those things that YOU deem the speaker qualified to speak on? You are speaking out of both sides of your mouth.

    You don’t respect free speech at all. You respect your own sensibilities and feelings, and that’s it.

  • puffthejapanesedragon

    Ms. Omish’s op-ed reeks of dishonesty. Her account of the story does not match up with the accounts of the misrepresented groups; it does not admit wrongdoing by MSA; and it does not admit incompetence. Is Ms. Omish suggesting that the leaders of WLI, Slifka, and Friends of Israel are colluding in a lie?

  • theantiyale

    ” I explained my view that Hirsi Ali does not have the scholarly credentials to speak on Islam and asked that the event be limited to subjects she can speak on from her personal experiences.”
    EXPERT OR NOT, SHE OR ANYONE ELSE, HAS THE RIGHT TO SPEAK IN AMERICA (and I assume Yale is still part of America) ON ANY TOPIC S/HE WISHES.

  • kevin24

    You guys screwed up and should send an apology/notification out to the same list of people. You won’t, but you should.

  • jim

    If you were really sincere about only including groups who really wanted their names on the email, you would have sent your rectification email to everyone on campus, as you did with the original one.

  • Tom

    So in other words, the MSA is lying. A fine example of taqiyya, except they got caught.
    Can we conclude that the MSA supports female genital mutilation, and the stoning -to-death of gays, lesbians, and adulterers / fornicators?

    • Arafat

      Someone much smarter than me , once posted—-

      The Jihadist Muslim will hack your head off and the moderate Muslim will hold
      your feet down while he is doing it—-
      =========
      Does this define the MSA?

  • eli1

    I am so sick of people using the term “hate speech.” It serves no other purpose than to dismiss and silence viewpoints other than you’re own. I cannot take you seriously as an advocate of “free speech” (As you surely are not) if you’re going to result to the same tactics as the many student censors who have come before you.

    • ldffly

      At least in this debate, nobody has yet to spell ‘hate’ as ‘h8.’

  • anarchist2014

    Compelling strategy that has been used in the past at Yale arises once more:

    1. Find event / group that offend your sensibilities

    2. Craft a campus-wide response that frames your objection under “social justice” or “violation of free speech” or “hate speech”

    3. Overwhelm the other group to write a response in a frenzy (meanwhile the waters have already been muddied by false accusations)

    If you time things right, the situation can only be clarified by YDN coverage and Op-Eds on the day of the event or just after

    • Tim Steele

      you forgot to mention the anonymous nature of these student group “signatures”

  • yalemarxist

    Look, people: the phrase “free speech” is just confusing everyone here. Let’s distinguish between four propositions:
    1. I don’t think speaker X should be allowed to speak.
    2. I don’t agree with speaker X but think that it’s good that s/he is speaking because I value the resulting exchange of ideas.
    3. I don’t agree with speaker X and thing that it’s bad that s/he is speaking because speaker X has little to offer towards an intelligent/respectful exchange of ideas.
    4. I agree with speaker X.

    It seems as if the position of one side is #3, but its detractors have tried to paint it as #1. It seems as if the detractors’ position is #2, but the other side has tried to paint them as #4.

    Let’s be very explicit about what sort of claims we’re trying to make about speech, please?

    For my part, only the speech of the proletariat should be allowed on campus.

  • Guest

    We first heard about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s visit to campus through a member of the MSA. We were surprised to see that a group of our fellow Yalies would invite a speaker so well-known for her hate speech and assumed that they must not have been aware of the extent of her intolerance.

    Please provide some examples of her hate speech.

    I explained my view that Hirsi Ali does not have the scholarly credentials to speak on Islam and asked that the event be limited to subjects she can speak on from her personal experiences.

    Her personal experiences are EXACTLY what she will be speaking on! But that’s what you are really against, isn’t it?

  • Guest

    Why does Yale allow such anti-American, hate-ridden articles such as this?! The Yale MSA needs to write an apology to everyone on the front page. Stat.

  • Arafat

    Was John Quincy Adams guilty of hate speech or was he just an honest man speaking the truth?

    John Quincy Adams on Islam

    “The precept of the Koran is,
    perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.
    The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the
    victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and
    the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious
    necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by
    the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The
    commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force.”

  • Robert Boni

    Maybe the MSA can get ISIS chief Baghdadi (sp?) to come and lecture on something to do with mohammedanism and tolerance.

  • James Smith

    The YDN needs to stop filtering comments. I cannot believe my previous comment was not published. What’s the point of having this comments section if they are all filtered ahead of time?

    • trollalert

      This is still a newspaper article being published by them. Their right to protect students and prevent the display of hurtful information is their prerogative. If you’d like to post something on your Facebook page, you would be free to do so. Comments are filtered now because there were people who refused to abide by “community standards”

      • kevin24

        Dude, their moderating is really lame. They should let things be posted and then react. It’s what respectable news organizations do.

      • Tom

        “…prevent the display of hurtful information…”
        Awwww…the poor little hothouse flowers must be protected. God forbid they encounter anything that causes them to question their own prejudices, huh?

  • EPatrickMosman

    Would MSA protest to having Miriam Ibraheem, whose young son was locked up with her and she was forced to give birth to her second child while behind bars in horrifying
    conditions and who faced a death sentence in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith until global outrage forced her release have sufficient bitter experience credentials to speak at Yale on Islam’s treatment of women who are designated as apostates?

  • EPatrickMosman

    Is my post still under consideration or has it disappeared?
    “Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by Yale Daily News.”

    Would MSA protest to having Miriam Ibraheem, whose young son was locked up with her and she was forced to give birth to her second child while behind bars in horrifying
    conditions and who faced a death sentence in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith until global outrage forced her release have sufficient bitter experience credentials to speak at Yale on Islam’s treatment of women who are designated as apostates?

    Would MSA protest to having Miriam Ibraheem, whose young son was
    locked up with her and she was forced to give birth to her second child
    while behind bars in horrifying

    conditions and who faced a death
    sentence in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith until
    global outrage forced her release have sufficient bitter experience
    credentials to speak at Yale on Islam’s treatment of women who are
    designated as apostates?

  • saunan

    Social Justice Warriors take note: This is how it’s done. 1) Proclaim your belief in the “value” of free speech. 2) Use your own free speech rights to express “concern” about the “offensive speech” of others. 3) Explain that free speech must be limited to exclude ideas which “tolerant” people view as hate speech. 4) If at first you do not succeed, try try again.

    “Muslims on campus believe in the value of free speech … We were surprised to see that a group of our fellow Yalies would invite a speaker so well-known for her hate speech … I asked that the event be limited to subjects she can speak on from her personal experiences.” – Abrar Omeish

    • Bladderball2

      By this standard, Abrar Omeish is qualified to speak about high school, iTunes, and similar subjects.

  • gearbox123

    How interesting that the “final version” was released at midnight and clubs were given just an hour (between 12 and 1 AM!) to read the final version! All kinds of underhanded activities happen in the dead of night, apparently.

    • Tim Steele

      true, remember the passage of Obamacare!

  • Tim Steele

    “Abrar Omeish is a sophomore in Branford College. Her views do
    not represent those of the Muslim Students Association.”

    hahahahahah… now that one is just priceless! Didn’t she just write this silly letter on behalf of the MSA?

    How do you say “intellectual dishonesty” in Arabic? This woman is a charlatan. She takes her fellow Yalies as fools.

    • Rebekah

      That would be funny if she wasn’t even Arab and because she is Muslim, you assumed so. How, do say “ignorant” to someone who shoudnt be?

      • Guest

        No Rebekah, I didn’t assume anything. I looked her up online and discovered her family is from Libya, before I posted.

      • Tim Steele

        I didn’t assume anything. The last time I checked, Libya was an Arab country.

  • Moi

    There’s a degree of intellectual dishonesty here. Okay, maybe more than a degree.

    From my readings and observations, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a wonderfully intelligent and articulate speaker who challenges and criticizes Islam. The faith. Not Muslims in general. Criticizing and challenging an idea, even if that idea is a deeply held religious faith, is somewhat different than calling for attacks against specific people. Yes, anyone can quote mine and take statements out of context, thereby shifting perceived meaning however I strongly suspect Ms. Hirsi Ali would be thrilled should people leave Islam and chagrined should her words result in violence against Muslims.

    To call criticizing Islam “hate speech” is akin to the nonsense that results in cries of Islamophobia.

  • http://www.philippeorlando.com Philippe Orlando

    I really love the fact that they start with : ” Much like our fellow Yalies in the Buckley Program, Muslims on campus believe in the value of free speech” Nope you don’t. Nice try though.