Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Compare and Contrast: Hassan Diab in Ottawa; Mahmoud El-Qemany in Cairo.

Carleton University's refusal to hire a professor who is under strict bail conditions while he awaits charges related to the hate crime of a Paris synagogue-bombing that resulted in four deaths has earned the administration a shrill scolding from 30 of its anthropology and sociology professors. Replacing Hassan Diab is "an attack on widely held democratic values. . . a bleak chapter in the story of injustice and discrimination in the dark shadow of 9/11" and proof that the 'war on terror' has gone too far. It's all about basic freedoms, the unseemly influence of Jewish advocacy organizations, George W. Bush, a dangerous lesson about a bigger picture, and so on.

Professor Ian Lee offers a dissenting view, calling the uproar over Diab's non-hiring "nonsense on stilts." Diab's departmental supporters are clueless, Lee writes: "To retain an instructor in the classroom charged with such profoundly serious crimes would express a callous contempt for our students and their parents."

Andrew Potter takes a similar view, noting that Diab's elevation to "something of an anti-imperialist folk hero on a par with Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez" says something rather more about Carleton's anthro-soc department than its profs might like. Department chair Peter Gose put his foot in it with his weird comment about Carleton's "large Muslim student population," and if it's a bigger picture you want to put the Diab hubbub inside, Potter suggests it's "the usual internal force of anti-Israel ideological conformity that infects virtually every department of humanities and social sciences in the country."

Not to be too cynical, but somehow I can't imagine the brave champions of academic freedom that have rallied to the barricades on Diab's behalf will be paying too much mind to the case of Mahmoud El Qemany, who is facing something rather more than an interregnum in his academic engagements at the moment. He's not facing multiple murder charges, either. El Qemany's crime: He recently received the Egyptian State Award for Social Sciences and at the same time is not a koran-thumping lunatic. For this, he is facing death.

Here, in full, is El Qemany's "Appeal to the World's Conscience":

In the context of my academic research and practical work I have been able to provide an important set of motion in the stagnant Egyptian situation. I have attempted to make reforms from the inside and worked on the disarmament of those who exploit Islam politically and make it a source of livelihood at the expense of the simple, good people of Egypt. I have therefore created a secular movement that has imposed its presence, although still at a formative stage.

In a free ballot of Egyptian thinkers, I was granted the State Award for Social Sciences, on June 25th 2009. The hard-line radical militant groups considered that the state has adopted this intellectual secular trend officially, infuriating the mentioned group which called on the State to withdraw the prize with the declaration of my defection from Islam and excommunication which means in our country, I could be slain; any citizen is allowed to kill me and be awarded by God in Paradise.

The following parties have participated in the statements of excommunication (takfir), noting that none of them have read a single word of what I wrote, and have not been able to hold a dialogue to discuss my ideas:

1 – Al-Azhar Scholars Front headed by Yahya Ismail Habloush, which issued the first statement of excommunication on July 10, 2009.

2 – The Islamic Group (condemned terrorist group) issued a statement of excommunication on July 10, 2009.

3 – The Muslim Brotherhood hailed the excommunication, and were represented at the parliament by Hamdi Hassan requesting the withdrawal of the award and the declaration of religious-defection and excommunication on July 7, 2009. The Muslim Brotherhood also declared my excommunication on Mohwar Channel on July 11, 2009 and on Al Faraeen Channel on July 13, 2009.

4 – The Salafi (Fundamentalist) Group (condemned terrorist group) dedicated its Internet site named “The Egyptians” for excommunicating me and incitements to kill me, since the date of obtaining the prize until today.

5 – Al Nas channel, which represents the theoretical side of bloody terrorism which declared excommunication and demanded “all citizens who can” to kill me immediately, on July 24 and 25, 2009.

6 – The Hisbah Sheikh Youssef Al Badri in Egypt declared on the channel “ON TV” on July 3, 2009 that I have cursed God and the Prophet Mohammad in my books even though I have challenged him and others to refer to a single text written by me where such claims were made. Due to this proclamation, he has issued an incitement to kill me.

7 – A member of the Al-Azhar scholars, Sheikh Mohammed El Berry, on Mihwar TV Channel on July 11, 2009 announced my excommunication as he also said that he did not read any of my writings since he does not read “garbage”. He repeated the same words on the channel “ON TV” on July 22, 2009

8 – Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the former Chairman of the “State Religious Affairs Advisory Board”, issued a statement declaring my infidelity and calling for slaying me for “insulting the Prophet of Islam, the God of Islam” on July 24, 2009.

9 – The Sheiks of more than 5,000 mosques on Friday prayers on July 24, 2009 declared the incitement to kill me, especially in my hometown, which led to the rampage against my family and relatives, and that could possibly evolve to some serious consequences in the coming weeks.

Due to the above, I call upon the conscience of all humanity in the free world to come to me and my children’s rescue by providing moral support and the condemnation and denunciation of the radical thinking with quick solutions to save us from the danger that is luring around us. This is a distress call to all bodies and individuals. A call to the consciences of every free individual in the world.

Sayed Mahmoud El Qemany- Researcher


Blogger Rebecca said...

Ah, but what's the difference between them? El-Qemany is working for freedom of thought and research. Hassan Diab is accused of murdering Jews. We see now what his colleagues value.

12:30 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Hi Rebecca.

To be clear, there may well be a solid case to be made that Carelton's administration has been less than attentive in its duty to uphold the letter and the spirit of its collective agreement with CAUT in the Diab affair. If so, management should be held fully accountable, and should take every available measure in restitution. But I don't have an opinion on that matter at all.

To me, what is of interest here, and I think of primary interest to Lee and Potter, is the jaw-dropping adolescence in the tone and tenor of both Gose's remarks and the content of the defence that Carleton's anthro-soc faculty has mounted on Diab's behalf, both of which also betray an attitude that is as disturbing as Potter suggests.

It's not just that I cannot bring myself to imagine such a full-throated response coming from CAUT to the appeal Mahmoud El Qemany has issued (although one must live in hope). It's also that I simply cannot imagine Carleton's anthro-soc profs adopting a similar posture if Diab's name had more of an Anglo-Saxon ring to it and he was facing charges related to putting a bomb in a mosque and murdering, say, four brown-skinned Canadians. In contrast, I expect CAUT would be demanding a public inquiry into how it came to pass that such a person had been hired by Carleton in the first place, and that professors writing letters with the name George W Bush awkwardly drawn into the correspondence would be the last people you'd expect to raise "innocent until proven guilty" complaints if such were the case.



10:51 AM  
Blogger Graham said...

> under strict bail conditions while he awaits charges . . .
“To retain an instructor in the classroom charged with such profoundly serious crimes would express a callous contempt for our students and their parents.” (NB. _charged with_.)

>Mahmoud El Qemany [who is] not facing multiple murder charges, either.

Away from the choice of wording in used by supporters of Hassan Diab, the recurring phrase here relates to the _charges_ he is facing. "Innocent until proven guilty" is a worthwhile liberal assumption to hold onto here, is it not?

4:20 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Graham: Yes, innocent until proven guilty is an extremely important principle to uphold here. I don't think it's necessarily sufficient to maintain his teaching position until the charges are resolved - this is a teaching position, after all - but I don't have much of an opinion on that matter beyond what I expressed in my previous comment.

It's the nutter arguments of his erstwhile supporters that are noteworthy here. I sure wouldn't want people like that as champions of my cause, if I were innocent and in the same predicament.

5:28 PM  

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