WORCESTER-- A war against Iraq presents the United States with an opportunity to stop militant Muslims, but the danger is that a few missteps would bring new strength to Islamic fundamentalists, according to a Middle East expert.
Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia, spent nearly two hours last night at the College of the Holy Cross giving his views on fundamentalists and the impending war with Iraq.
The American government looks at terrorist attacks as crimes and not as battles in a war, he said, and makes no attempt to deal with the larger issues of a militant ideology.
Casualties of war may be the only way Americans will learn that militant Islamics must be stopped, he said.
"I am a supporter of the president," Mr. Pipes said, "but if we don't get more serious, there will be worse to come. It will be an education by murder."
Mr. Pipes drew a wide audience of more than 200 last night as he spoke on "Militant Islam and the War on Terror." Supporters applauded him while protesters lined up inside the Hogan Campus Center ballroom with gags in their mouths objecting to the Philadelphia forum's "Campus Watch" Web site.
Before Mr. Pipes delivered his address, protesters held signs outside the campus center.
Marissa Daley, a Clark University senior, held a sign that read "Blacklists are un-American."
Her objection, she said, was to the Web site that initially listed the names of facul ty members who Campus Watch believes are biased in their teachings about the Middle East.
Mr. Pipes said last week that names of professors listed on the Web site were taken off because of criticism.
Activists from Worcester PeaceWorks and Worcester Global Action Network also protested.
One of the activists, Kevin Ksen, a Holy Cross alumnus, said he kept a gag in his mouth throughout Mr. Pipes' speech to raise awareness about Campus Watch. He did not try to ask a question, he said, because of the behavior of the moderator, Holy Cross political science professor David L. Schaefer.
"David Schaefer only called on students he knew," Mr. Ksen said.
According to its Web site, Campus Watch consists of American academics concerned about U.S. interests in the Middle East. The organization monitors and identifies professors who allegedly "fan the flames of disinformation, incitement and ignorance" in Middle East studies departments. Campus Watch also promotes developing a network of concerned students and faculty interested in "promoting American interests on campus."
At least one protester also beat a drum outside the center, but campus police officer Capt. Cornelius Carmody stopped him, saying students were trying to study inside.
Most of Mr. Pipes' speech centered on the threat of Islamic fundamentalists. He said the threat from Iraq is a simple problem compared to the complexities of a war on terrorism.
Islamacists seeking to expand power in the Sudan killed an estimated 2 million people, he said, the single most awful humanitarian situation in the world today.
Militant Islamics started a war against the United States in 1979, according to Mr. Pipes. Since that time, American embassies have been taken over, and attacks on ships, airplanes and military barracks have escalated, he said. The bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the destruction of it in 2001 were overwhelming victories for the militants.
He proposed two goals for the United States. One is to defeat militant Islamics and the other is to strengthen moderate Islamics, similar to the way Allies in World War II helped rebuild Germany after the war.
Fundamentalist Islamics have a deep hatred of the West and of fellow Muslims who do not believe as they do. They resemble other totalitarian movements, he said, except for one key difference: Radical groups are defensive, but militant Islamics are offensive and are seeking world hegemony.
"They are saying they have the answer, and they are ready to fight for it," he said, "That's what the war is about."
Mr. Pipes struck a nerve with members of the audience, some of whom shouted for him to leave or accused him of not telling the truth. He responded with insults of his own, saying interruptions did not speak well of Holy Cross.
Mr. Schaefer also joined in, telling one man who continued to interrupt that he would be escorted out by campus police if he did not stop. The man quieted down and left shortly before the program ended.
Mr. Pipes' visit upset some area Muslims, who said they believe he spreads messages laced with anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic remarks. Some said they were concerned about backlash from such remarks.
Tahir Ali, a Westboro engineer and a Muslim, told a reporter after the speech that he objected to Mr. Pipes' sweeping statement that both violent and nonviolent militant Islamics are dangerous.
Mr. Ali said he is not a militant Islamic and is not a danger to anyone.
"I am more patriotic than he is," he said.