Middle East studies in the News
Muslim Professor Denying Crucifixion Resigns [on Areej Zufari]
by Michael F. Haverluck
In the wake of a student being suspended for challenging his professor's claim that Jesus Christ's crucifixion never took place, the Muslim activist educator quit her teaching position at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
Areej Zufari resigned just a couple weeks after one of her students was suspended – at her urging – for challenging her teaching that Christ's crucifixion was a hoax.
"Zufari] resigned this semester because of the hateful threats and emails and phones (sic) messages she was getting," Rollins College President Grant Cornwell stated, according to The College Fix. "I think it's a terrible injustice but I do respect her decision."
Islamic Activism 101
In retaliation to 21-year-old Marshall Poltston questioning of her heretical teaching, Zufari pushed for his immediate suspension, which was soon enacted – but not for long.
"At Zufari's instigation, the college suspended Polston with the warning that his 'actions' were 'a threat of disruption within the operations of the college and jeopardize the safety and well-being of members of the college community and yourself,'" WND reported. "However, he was reinstated only a week later when his case was reviewed."
The suspension received national headlines because the college punished a student for defending his Christian faith.
"A conservative Christian student at a private liberal arts college in Florida claimed he was suspended after speaking out when his Muslim professor claimed that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a hoax and after one of his classmates suggested that homosexuals should be punished under Sharia law," The Christian Post (CP) announced on March 27. "Marshall Polston ... received a letter from the school administration ... informing him that he has been placed on 'summary suspension' after being deemed a 'threat of disruption.'"
After the suspension, the Fix reported that Polston's attorney called for officials at the college to investigate whether the Islamic professor should still be permitted to teach after her "malicious assassination" of his client's character (and faith).
Denying the reasoning behind Polston's suspension, officials at Rollins College said he was punished for words he posted on social media – not for his in-class challenge of Zufari's anti-Christian instruction.
"[T]he college now says [that Polston was suspended for comments] on social media to another student," The Chronicle of High Education announced – not because he challenged Zufari's anti-Christian rant.
The college president maintained that the disciplinary action was a result of hate speech.
"Mr. Polston was suspended in connection with 'vulgar' and 'mean-spirited' comments he had written to another student," Cornwell claimed, according to the Chronicle.
But the report also included an account that the school was merely trying to cover its true reasoning for suspending Polston.
"A lawyer for Mr. Polston said the social-media comments were no more than a joke and that the classroom dispute was the real reason for the suspension," the report continued.
Defending the faith
After Zufari declared that the biblical and historical account of Jesus' crucifixion were a hoax – intended to undermine the tenets of the Christian faith – she claimed "harassment" to school officials, who promptly suspended Polston on March 24.
"Polston said he had repeatedly challenged the Muslim's claims that the Bible was false," WND's Bob Unruh explained. "School officials claimed they never would suspend a student for such challenges, but nevertheless took action against Polston."
In an email Polston sent to Zufari, he attempted to set the record straight.
"On the one hand, you report me to the dean for correcting you while you were indoctrinating students with false information," Polston wrote, according to WND. "On the other hand, a Muslim student in class cracks a joke about chopping someone's body parts off and you do nothing."
Polston also alleged that Zufari was incompetent as a professor and should not be allowed to keep her position at Rollins College.
It was further reported that – despite her contention that she could not function and had to cancel a subsequent class because of Polston's email – the Islamic professor admitted to police that he made no real threats.
"Zufari stated Polston has not threatened to harm her in any physical manner, but wrote her a lengthy email which concluded that he 'would hate to get in contact with some national media personalities that I'm good friends with. I'm going to have to take it there or pursue legal options if you don't stop your harassment towards me,'" a police report from the Winter Park Police Department stated.
Polston started out his email to Zufari as follows:
"We need to talk as soon as possible over phone or in your office because you have been extremely unfair to me and pursuit a ruthless program of hostility in your recent grading simply due to the fact that I disagree with you on your inherent bias and clandestine theological apologies," the straight-A student opened up his letter. "I'm actually a nice person, but not when I'm viciously attacked. I'd be just as happy to go to the dean about this issue."
He received a 52 percent on the essay he turned in after the confrontation – a grade Polston said had nothing to do with the quality of his work ... and everything to do with retaliation.
"I was upset, understandably," Polston expressed, according to CP. "I've never gotten anything less than straight A's. So, I was really interested in figuring out how to possibly improve – or at least understand – the grade."
Polston also mentioned the irony that he was being disciplined for being a threat on campus while another (Muslim) student in his class argued that a "good punishment for gays, adulterers, and thieves was the removal of a certain body part, as determined by Sharia law." The Christian student was dumbfounded.
"It took a few seconds for me to realize that he actually said that, especially after what this community has faced with the tragic loss of life at Pulse [Nightclub in Orlando last June]," Polston recounted, according to CP, noting that Zufari responded only in a joking manner that the Muslim student would be put on "time-out."
Even though Polston and many other students were in shock from the violent remark, which one classmate reported to the FBI, according to the Central Florida Post, it was Polston who was summoned to the dean's office for making the college "unsafe."
"They made it clear that they had not gotten a report about what the student said, and were more concerned about the danger I was causing to the campus," Polston recollected. "What danger? A difference of opinion in a college classroom is nothing out of the ordinary and certainly not dangerous. It was surreal and degrading. The bad grade was upsetting, but they were literally refusing to acknowledge the dangers posed by someone who advocated chopping off body parts on campus."
Baseless banter ...
Shortly after the Polston's suspension, one government watchdog group candidly addressed the problem with officials at Rollins College.
"Professor Areej Zufari taught 'that the crucifixion of Jesus was a hoax and that His disciples did not believe he was God,'" Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer noted. "This is not historical fact. It is pure Islamic dogma. Unless Marshall Polston had signed up for a class on Islamic dogma, Zufari had no business teaching these views as fact rather than faith. But as ever, it is Polston who has to take the fall, as Zufari deftly stepped into victimhood mode, with the willing complicity of the easy Leftist marks in the Rollins College administration."
Spencer asserted that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as God incarnate stands as fact with scholars and theologians across the globe – and that opposition to this account is mere conjecture.
"Whether religious or not, I believe even those with limited knowledge of Christianity can agree that according to the text, Jesus was crucified and his followers did believe He was divine ... that He was 'God," Spencer contended. "Regardless, to assert the contrary as academic fact is not supported by the evidence."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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