Middle East studies in the News
Muslim Professor's Lawsuit Against Christian Student Dismissed by Florida Judge [on Areej Zufari]
by Samuel Smith
A lawsuit filed by a Muslim professor against a Christian student, who was suspended last month at a Florida college after he challenged the professor on her assertions about Jesus, has been dismissed by a Florida judge.
According to the Central Florida Post, Rollins College professor Areeje Zufari's lawsuit asking for a temporary injunction against student Marshall Polston for protection against stalking was dismissed by a, Orange County circuit judge after she filed a motion to drop the case on Tuesday.
Polston, a student in Zufari's Middle Eastern humanities class, has maintained that there is no evidence of him stalking Zufari and insists that she has made up the charges against him.
In March, Polston was issued a summary suspension from Rollins College after a string of incidents, including questioning claims made by the professor in class, and asserting in an email that she has an "agenda" to silence him and that she is one of the most incompetent professors he's met.
The issues started after Polston challenged Zufari in class about her assertion that Jesus was never crucified and that the disciples didn't believe He was a God.
Later, Polston was given a failing grade on an essay, which he later questioned Zufari about in an email. Zufari later reported Polston to the school's dean of safety and claimed that Polston made her feel unsafe to conduct class.
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In another incident, according to Polston, a Muslim student in his class said that gays, adulterers and thieves should be punished in accordance with sharia law. Although a few students in the class were reportedly thrown back by the comment, Polston's response was reported and he was later issued the suspension.
On March 30, Rollins College reinstated Polston from his suspension and in a letter informed him that he was not responsible for the allegations of abuse lodged against him and that his actions did not violate the school's community standards.
However, the letter contended that Polston's behavior was "aggressive, disrespectful and at times vulgar in multiple verbal and electronic communications with faculty, staff and students."
After Polston was reinstated, his attorney, Kenneth Lewis, issued a statement calling for the university to investigate Zufari's actions.
"Anyone who runs down to the courthouse and files an unfounded claim based on hearsay and slander is unfit to teach America's youth, in any capacity," Lewis told the Central Florida Post. "Rollins should relieve Zufari of her teaching responsibilities immediately. The entire imbroglio has left her devoid of credibility and the reputation of Rollins College is at stake. The students deserve better, the boosters deserve better, and Winter Park deserves better."
Conservative activists, who warn about the dangers of radical Islam, are accusing Zufari of having ties to radical Islamic organizations and Muslim extremists.
"A professor used her position as an authority figure to intimidate Marshall's free speech. Then, we find out the professor, Areej Zufari, made false statements to the police. Then, we dig deeper and discover Zufari has ties to terrorist groups," Act for America Field Coordinator Scott Pressler told the Central Florida Post. "Notwithstanding Marshall's reinstatement, Zufari must be fired for her false police report and her connections to terror groups. Defend our free speech, keep terror out of our schools, and #FireZufari."
Last Saturday, protesters gathered on campus to urge Rollins College to fire Zufari.
FrontPage Mag asked Rollins College to comment on Zufari's alleged ties to radical organizations.
"Rollins College is welcoming and respectful of all religious and cultural beliefs. As an institution of higher education, we value and encourage diversity of opinions and respectful discourse," Rollins College spokeswoman Jo Marie Hebeler said in a statement. "In accordance with FERPA and our institutional policies, it is our responsibility to respect the privacy and confidentiality of all involved in this incident, students and faculty alike. The safety and fair treatment of all members of our campus community is of utmost concern."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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