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Members from the UNM Muslim Students Association speak to students during the 2014 Islam Awareness Week. A recent article published on stopthejihadoncampus.org rated UNM as one of 10 terrorist-friendly universities in the United States.

Members from the UNM Muslim Students Association speak to students during the 2014 Islam Awareness Week. A recent article published on stopthejihadoncampus.org rated UNM as one of 10 terrorist-friendly universities in the United States.

Website lists UNM as "terrorist-friendly" due to Muslim student groups

An American watchdog website has listed UNM as one of the top 10 “terrorist-friendly” universities nationwide — a claim that some on campus are calling unfounded and illegitimate.

The David Horowitz Freedom Center wrote the article for stopthejihadoncampus.org, stating that two national student groups — the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine — are being supported by universities in their efforts to allegedly “spread the propaganda lies of the terrorist organization Hamas, and to demonize the Jewish state” through events.

But Masood Mirza, president of the Muslim Students Association at UNM, said the group’s goals are leaning in the opposite direction.

“In terms of what he’s written, all of his allegations are absolutely incorrect: the MSA’s offered to open its books to anybody who’s interested,” Mirza said. “We don’t receive any money from any terrorist organization ... and we strongly condemn all the acts (of terrorism) that have been happening.”

Following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Lebanon, the MSA issued a statement on its Facebook page stating its opposition to those involved, and reaffirming that “this is not the true way of Islam, or any faith, or the direction of the human being.”

Emile Nakhleh, coordinator for National Security Programs at UNM, also called the article false, grounded in narrow ideological perspective and not based on any legitimate evidence.

As a matter of fact, Nakhleh said that because of UNM’s close proximity to the Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs, the institution should be considered a national security university.

“In all candor, the author of the blog accusing UNM of being friendly to terrorism doesn’t know what he is talking about. The so-called supporting evidence is a series of lectures and student activities that have called for justice and human dignity,” he said. “There is nothing radical or extremist about these activities.”

Nakhleh went on to say that the article’s claims are “at best disingenuous, and at worst malicious.”

As it pertains to UNM, the article specifically claims SJP events, as well as an anti-Islamophobia resolution passed by the Associated Students of UNM in the spring, as promoting a terrorist-affiliated agenda.

According to its website, the David Horowitz Freedom Center seeks to “combat the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror.” Mirza said that the Center probably didn’t do much research before writing the article.

“What I’m assuming the writer did ... was he simply went on Google, typed in ‘SJP’ and ‘MSA’, and whatever universities have both (organizations), he said, ‘Oh, these are terror-friendly universities,” Mirza said.

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The other universities on the list are Brandeis, Columbia, Harvard, Rutgers - New Brunswick, San Francisco State, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.

Representatives at the David Horowitz Freedom Center could not be reached at press time.

Mirza said if the writers were to come to UNM and experience its rich diversity — something that the University takes pride in — they would see a very different agenda from MSA and other groups.

“And we do our best: every group has to show off their diversity,” he said. “MSA does Islamic Awareness Week; that’s important to us because we want to show people that this is how diverse we are, and most people support us in it. Most people really enjoy it when we do that.”

The anti-Islamophobia resolution passed unanimously by ASUNM in the spring received some backlash from students and others off campus for attempting to silence political opposition.

ASUNM vice president Alex Cervantes, who was a senator at the time, said any backlash was unprecedented when taking into account the legislation’s intent.

“At the end of the day, this was something (the senators) all supported because we all support students,” she said. “For us it wasn’t a religious thing, and it wasn’t a racial thing, and it wasn’t any type of group thing; it was just, ‘we’re supporting students who are having hardships’.”

While many around the world perceive Islam as a doctrine based on fear, Mirza said that that is absolutely not the case, especially when it comes to the UNM group that he leads.

“We are completely against any terrorism, including ISIL or Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood — anybody that’s replacing justice with violence or justice with injustice and peace with violence. We don’t stand with (them),” he said.

David Lynch is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. Contact him at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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