They lost. Freedom won.
The brazen move by the Islamist lobby to sue an American professor for his choice of course text was a first and was seemingly aimed at using the courts to set a precedent allowing students to “cancel” any book they don’t agree with.
In a common-sense defense of freedom, the United States court rejected the frivolous lawsuit.
Mohamed Sabra, a student at Maricopa County Community College, partnered with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to bring a case against the college and his professor, Nicholas Damask. Not only did the court find Sabra and CAIR had no standing to seek relief from the court system, Judge Brnovich dismissed claims by CAIR’s attorneys that Sabra “was punished for refusing to agree with an anti-Muslim professor’s unconstitutional condemnations of Islam during a political science class” and was forced to denounce his religion.
Curriculum that merely conflicts with a student’s religious beliefs does not violate the Free Exercise Clause. Parker v. Hurley […] (requirement that public school students to read a book featuring gay couples did not violate constitutional rights of Christian parents or children); […] Torlakson […] (ruling that requiring students to learn class material that the plaintiffs viewed as “derogatory towards Hinduism” did not violate the Free Exercise Clause). “‘[D]istinctions must be drawn between those governmental actions that actually interfere with the exercise of religion, and those that merely require or result in exposure to attitudes and outlooks at odds with perspective prompted by religion.’” Torlakson […]. Government action that merely offends religious beliefs do not violate the Free Exercise Clause, “‘actual burden on the profession or exercise of religion is required.’” [Torlakson].
Here, Mr. Sabra alleges that he was forced to choose between denouncing his religion by selecting the “correct” answer or receiving a lower grade. That is simply not correct. As Defendants point out, Mr. Sabra was not required to adopt the views expressed by Dr. Damask or the authors Dr. Damask cited to in his course, but only to demonstrate an understanding of the material taught. Dr. Damask’s course did not inhibit Mr. Sabra’s personal worship in any way. Instead, Mr. Sabra was simply exposed to “attitudes and outlooks at odds” with his own religious perspective. See Torlakson […]. Therefore, as a matter of law, the Court finds that the Plaintiff’s allegations do not amount to a violation of the Free Exercise Clause by the Defendants, and these claims must be dismissed[.]
Being exposed to ideas contrary to a student’s own and being asked to demonstrate an understanding of those ideas is exactly what a liberal arts education is all about. In fact, one once attended college or university explicitly in order to be exposed to ideas different from one’s own.
Cancel culture in academia has severely reduced opportunities for students’ exposure to diverse political views, but the plaintiffs also could not pass up this latest opportunity to attack Walid Phares, the author of the targeted book Future Jihad, and used the lawsuit to fire another salvo at the author who also wrote War of Ideas.
CAIR’s war on US experts in general, and on Dr. Walid Phares in particular, is as old as the organization itself, founded in 1994. CAIR fights to silence moderate Muslim reformers like Omar Jamal, and they have targeted scholars like Khalid Duran and experts like Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, and Frank Gaffney.
However, they are most afraid of Walid Phares, making him their top target, at least openly, since 1999. But why?
Phares is a noted author and advisor to decision makers. He is an opinion maker. Congress and agencies listen to him. Presidential candidates select him to advise them. And Phares competently exposes the political ideology of Islamists and jihadists. The fact that CAIR targets him thoroughly undermines their own narrative that the group is, as advertised, a humanitarian organization.
In 2010, CAIR started to petition all agencies to remove his material and remove him from teaching;
In March 2011, they smeared him when he was chosen by Congress to testify on homeland security;
In October 2011, CAIR’s Nihad Awad issued a slander note against him to have Romney remove him from the campaign (this failed);
In March 2016, CAIR joined the Iran lobby to smear him again when he was named by Donald Trump as his foreign policy advisor;
After that, CAIR listed him as an "Islamophobe," with no evidence;
And in 2020 they sued a professor who used his book Future Jihad.
Why Future Jihad?
Future Jihad was a best-selling book published in 2005 that reflected an American consensus developed after the 9/11 Commission report came out in 2004. The book was recognized and read by the national security, Defense and intelligence communities, and by lawmakers. It explains the strategies of the jihadists. It became a vital book for U.S. national security and a dangerous book for the Islamist extremists.
With its connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and defense of the Iran Deal, CAIR advocates for a form of political jihadism in the United States. And in Future Jihad, CAIR indoctrination was exposed, thus they wanted to erase the book from libraries, and classrooms. The use of the book by Damask demonstrated CAIR’s failure.
The attacks by CAIR do not stop with attacking those who expose them, however. Their strategies continue to adapt and evolve with the times. This year, CAIR has been trying to infiltrate the recent riots to destroy symbols of American history – as with a desire to destroy and transform history on other continents. This new type of battle was blasted by AMCD.
The court decision was a decisive win for freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and academic freedom. It was also a win for Walid Phares and all others targeted by the political arm of a jihadist movement in that the jihadists’ fascist approach, of limiting ideas to only those with which they agree, was immediately shut down. That was the precedent set. So there may be hope for the next generation after all.