Daniel Pipes will have his say at York University after all.
Two days after the controversial pro-Israel academic was barred from speaking at a student-run centre on campus, the university's administration has agreed to host him elsewhere on campus.
"York has a strong tradition of providing a venue for the free expression of a broad range of opinions on a whole range of topics including this one," the university's director of media relations Cim Nunn said yesterday afternoon. "We are aware of some of the concerns students have, but that notwithstanding, he has a right to express his views as long as he doesn't break the law."
Pipes, an author and director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, is known for long-standing warnings on "the threat of militant Islam" and his creation of Campus Watch (http://www.campus-watch.org), a Web site that highlights academics on campuses across North America that he considers anti-American and anti-Israel.
He was invited by York's Jewish Federation of Students to give a lecture on "Barriers to Peace" next Tuesday inside the York Student Centre, and to speak at a luncheon hosted by York's Centre for International and Security Studies, that same day.
But both centres cancelled this week, citing concerns about Pipes' Web site and some of his views on Muslims.
"It is to my mind typical of universities which have been dubbed islands of oppression in a sea of tolerance.
"Whereas in almost any other institution, one has a give and take and an exchange of ideas, the university is where one finds this is in jeopardy," Pipes said in an interview from his office yesterday before hearing about the final decision.
Pipes said he was prepared to play host to the students himself at a meeting place off the campus, if necessary.
Student activists, who formed the Coalition for Academic Freedom in opposition to Pipe's arrival on campus, are angry over the latest developments.
"Daniel Pipes is a known hate-spreading racist that offends the large majority of the student population at York," said Ali Hassan, president of York's Middle Eastern Students Association. "He is a man who preaches the exact opposite of what higher academic institutions stand for, such as freedom of speech. He targets and blacklists professors across North American that challenge his views or share a difference of opinion."
The coalition plans a rally to coincide with Pipes' lecture.
The university has not yet announced where Pipes will speak on Tuesday.
The Student Centre, a student-run building on campus with restaurants and student association offices, cancelled the event after receiving complaints from student groups and security concerns were raised by the university administration.
"The student centre is a very centrally located and highly populated building. If a problem did arise, we were concerned about how we could effectively ensure the safety of Mr. Pipes and all the participants," said the centre's executive director, Rob Castle.
Last September, protesters damaged property and clashed with police denouncing a scheduled speech by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Concordia University in Montreal. The speech was cancelled and York put a moratorium on any public events involving the Middle East.
The Centre for International and Security Studies originally withdrew its support of the appearance citing Pipes' Web site.
"Campus Watch was seen by many as an effort to silence competing voices," said the centre's director.