Ohio State students mobilize after campus newspaper runs ad linking Muslim students to terrorism

Photo courtesy of Jana Al-Akhras

Outraged students at the Ohio State University have mobilized after The Lantern, the campus’s official student-run newspaper, published what they say is a discriminatory advertisement linking the Muslim Student Association to international terrorism.

Titled “Former leaders of the Muslim Student Association (MSA)”, the advertisement asks “Where are they now?” and lists nine MSA co-founders and former Presidents as having ties to alleged terrorist groups. One such listing describes Jamal Barzini as both a co-founder of the MSA and a close associate of Hamas.

The advertisement was paid for by FrontPage Magazine, an online publication funded by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a national institution recognized for its harsh and derogatory stance against Islam.

The advertisement, printed on page 2 of the newspaper, drew immediate criticism for its direct assault on Muslim representation on American college campuses. According to Jana Al-Akhras, a 2nd year student and member of the university’s MSA, “it’s a blatant attempt at reinforcing stereotypes and causing widespread fear of Muslims on campus.”

Students across campus have already begun to protest the advertisement. “We are writing a letter to the editor,” said Nadia Ismail, a 1st year undergraduate at OSU, and “will be in touch with groups on and off campus” to stand against what Al-Akhras calls a blanket statement labeling Muslim students as security threats. OSU’s MSA is currently planning a course of action.

Although The Lantern was not responsible for putting the advertisement together, Al-Akhras says she holds the newspaper accountable. “It wasn’t an op-ed. It was a paid advertisement and they [The Lantern] had all the right to refuse it.”

Asked whether this form of advertisement should be expected, Ismail said that “it has become acceptable to discriminate against Muslims. I don’t think any attack this forthcoming would have been published about any other religion.”

There is much to discuss about freedom of speech on college campuses but “there’s a fine line between freedom of speech and hate speech,” Al-Akhras said in an interview. To imply that the MSA, assuming the advertisement’s allegations are true, is responsible for international terrorism only “breeds hatred.”

Both Al-Akhras and Ismail hope this experience will show that discrimination on and off campus will not be tolerated.

Sami Kishawi


There are 5 comments

  1. Brian Mayer

    At a State University you would be hard pressed to find a judge who would ban speech like this in the school newspaper. There simply isn’t such a thing as “hate speech” as far as the US constitution is concerned.

    At the same time, what students could and should do is use their protected speech to speak out against this pretty inflammatory and offensive ad. And obviously, use their rights as consumers to fight distribution of the newspaper itself.

  2. Michael Dawson

    Speaking out is fine, but the students also need to deal with the merits. Are these lies, and if so, what is the truth? If there are bits of truth here, then what is the explanation and the context? Are there other examples of the campaign from the David Horowitz Freedom Center?

    The students need to take a lesson from @intifada.

  3. david horowitz

    The ad is factual. Its opponents have no argument so they resort to slander. This is leftwing McCarthyism and a pathetic demonstration of what a mis-education will produce as an excuse for thought. The MSA is a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it should be no surprise that one of its recruitment organizations is recruiting for al-Qaeda.

  4. Homer

    What is said in the advertisement is the truth. If not, why doesn’t the MSA refute it with facts? How can the truth be dicriminatory or hate speech? Preventing people from saying the truth won’t make reality go away.

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