Florida Atlantic University asked the U.S. State Department to once again do a background check on a visiting Palestinian professor accused by pro-Israeli activists of having terrorist ties.
Fulbright Professor Mustafa Abu Sway, who is teaching Islamic studies courses on the Jupiter campus this academic year, denied that he was a Hamas supporter – an allegation made by Daniel Pipes and Asaf Romirowsky in a New York Sun article published Tuesday. An article they published in October contained similar charges. In response to the October article, FAU contacted the State Department, which assured it a proper background check was done on Abu Sway, the university said. FAU said it promptly contacted the State Department and the Fulbright program Tuesday and requested an additional investigation.
Pipes and Romirowsky received a letter from Israeli Deputy Consul General of Miami Matty Cohen stating: "Abu Sway is known as an activist in the framework of the Hamas organization." They also said Abu Sway was a board member of two organizations—the Heritage Committee and the Foundation for the Development of Society—they describe as being shut down for being Hamas related. Abu Sway worked with the Palestinian "Charity Coalition," according to the article, a group that includes Hamas fundraising organizations. Pipes and Romirowsky also said the professor was connected to Sheikh Ra'ed Salah's Islamic Movement, which had 14 members arrested for Hamas fundraising. "The Fulbright program and Florida Atlantic University can thus congratulate themselves on promoting militant Islamic indoctrination by a man connected to terrorism," the article read.
Abu Sway said that he has no connection to Hamas and his teachings and writings don't support terrorism. The professor said that pro-Israeli groups are trying to discredit his reputation because he expresses his views on the suffering of the Palestinians and the inequalities they experience. "If you speak about the hardships that the Palestinian people are enduring, you are given a hard time," Abu Sway said. "It's character assassination – there's nothing more to it than this…If my name was George or Brian, they wouldn't question my position or relationships."
Having received his M.A. and Ph.D.s from Boston College, Abu Sway is an associate professor at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. He's been a panelist at dozens of academic discussions on Islam, the conflict in Israel and interfaith relations. Abu Sway provided articles where he denounced terrorist attacks and said suicide is against Islam, while also mentioning "state-sponsored terrorism."
During a discussion panel on world conflicts at FAU in early January, Abu Sway spoke about the situation in the Middle East and said that he supports a non-violent solution. The professor also said that Palestinians should be treated with equality and justice and supported the right of Palestinian refugees to return inside Israel, saying: "If you have the right to go back to the Holy Land after 2,000 years, the Palestinians should have the opportunity to go back after 50 years."
A member of the audience asked Abu Sway about the Palestinian terrorist organizations. "I'm not here to talk about that. At the same time, I don't address the record of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon," Abu Sway responded. "I condemn terrorism, whether it's by a group, an individual or a state."
Abu Sway said he was on the board of the Foundation for Development of Society, but the group was authorized by Israeli. The professor also said he met Sheikh Ra'ed Salah once – during an interview seven years ago – and didn't know about his connection to Hamas.
Article takes swipe at FAU
Pipes and Romirowsky accused FAU of "ignoring" their warnings about Abu Sway and asked readers angry over Abu Sway to email FAU President Frank Brogan. "Our little scoop met with yawns or disbelief," the article read. FAU responded that what Pipes and Romirowsky said was untrue. "Under the rule of law in the United States and the principles of democracy that must be upheld, all appropriate actions have been taken by Florida Atlantic University," the university said in a statement. "The shrill criticism that is being directed against the university by Mr. Pipes and Mr. Romirowsky serve only to demonstrate their lack of understanding of these fundamentals. "The statement said the university was acting with "due diligence and an abundance of caution."