The launch of a new Center for Global Islamic Studies at the extremely leftist University of Florida in Gainesville may have been planned as a purely academic affair, but the announcements in the local and national media, including AP and Fox News, exhibited more than a purely academic interest in this event. To compare, one doesn't often see national media announcements about, let's say, a local center for the study of viruses — unless the virus is Ebola. And just like with any news about Ebola studies, any news about studies of Islam attracts attention from the general public, who want to know if there's a hope for the cure, containment, and safety from danger.
Unfortunately, these may not be the kind of Islamic Studies that answer those hopes. The Center opened on September 18th with a conference on "Global Islam and the Quest for Public Space," headlined by none other than Georgetown professor John Esposito, a known apologist for radical Islam and founding director of the Saudi-sponsored Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.
A small group of protesters picketed the event outside the Pugh Hall on the university campus, with a dozen creative posters and a vinyl banner pointing out that John Esposito and the leader of ISIS both hold PhDs in Islamic Studies: "Same goal, different tactics." The video of the protest can be seen online.