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Zaytuna College, which plans to be the first accredited Muslim college in the United States, is set to open next fall in Berkeley, California. The college has been hailed as a victory for moderate Islam, a place to promote religious understanding by "blending traditional Islam and American culture and establishing a permanent place for the religion in American society," according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. But Zaytuna College may not be as moderate as it seems--or moderate at all.

The college's founders, Hamza Yusuf Hanson and Zaid Shakir, are similarly lauded as even-keeled Muslims who, according to the Chronicle, "have built a following with their inspirational lectures and willingness to take a critical look at Islam." NPR has promoted Hanson as a moderate Muslim; the New York Times featured both men as "middle ground" Muslims--and Hanson even met with George W. Bush following the attacks of 9/11.

Strange, then, that two days before September 11, 2001, Hanson said that America has "a great tribulation coming to it." Stranger still that Hanson called Judaism a "most racist religion" in 1995. Or that in 2006 Shakir told the New York Times that "Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country." Or that Hanson disparagingly called democracy and the Bill of Rights "false gods" in 1996. Given this, to say that Zaytuna College may not be what it seems may be an understatement.


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