‘Islamo Fascism’ Week Fails To Gain Traction

The much-hyped “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,” begun on Monday by conservatives on college campuses across the country, was met with resistance by Harvard students. While Islamic students took reactive measures, Harvard’s right-wing groups showed little interest in supporting the controversial campaign.

Islamo-Fascism awareness events—sponsored and organized by conservative pundit David Horowitz’s Freedom Center—were held at over 200 colleges, including Brown, Dartmouth, and Columbia. But the controversial week did not receive promotion from any group at Harvard.

Harvard Republican Club President Jeffrey Kwong ’09 said Horowitz’s center had solicited the club by mail, but that he had decided against taking part in the campaign “because there are a lot more meaningful ways of spreading the word against Islamic extremism.”

Horowitz said the Harvard College Republicans had expressed interest in the week, but said they had probably been intimidated out of taking part in the movement by “revolutionary political groups.”

“I regard university campuses as some of the least free areas in the country,” Horowitz said in an interview with The Crimson. He said there is a tendency in American academia to disregard the threat of extremist Islamic elements for fear of offending Muslims.

To serve as an academic counterweight to Horowitz’s claims, Islamic students discussed the difference between scholarly and misguided readings of the Qur’an last night. The question-and-answer session, sponsored by the Harvard Islamic Society (HIS) was attended by approximately 30 students.

HIS President Shaheer A. Rizvi ’08 said he assumed conservative students declined to participate in Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week because they saw that there was no analytical rigor or credibility to the campaign.

“‘Islamo-Fascism’ is not a term any academic would ever consider using. It creates an Islam-hate week,” Rizvi said.

Despite its failure to gain widespread attention at Harvard, Horowitz said he considers this week a success because it spurred conversation about Islamo-Fascism.

But according to Rizvi, the debate concerning extremism within Islam has been going on for quite some time. “Within the Muslim community we’ve seen very strong statements made by prominent scholars against Osama bin Laden and his ilk. There is a sense of coming together and defining what the boundaries are. And that’s naturally taking place within Islamic society.”

—Staff writer Charles J. Wells can be reached at wells2@fas.harvard.edu.