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  UCSB Islamic Group Rejects Sheikh Palazzi's Anti-Terrorist Message

March 4, 2004

                                           by Nonie Darwish

Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi, Director, Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community was a guest speaker on March 4th at the University of California in Santa Barbara. His speech focused on his opposition to terrorism. He considers suicide and murder of civilians as an aberration of Islam. 

One would think that Moslems, who believe in Islam as a religion of peace, would be appreciative of his message. However, the Moslem students association at UCSB disrupted the event during the question and answer period. They criticized Sheikh Palazzi for not starting his speech by saying "In the name of Allah and his Prophet Mohamed", ignoring the fact that the Sheikh was not addressing Moslems in a mosque. 

Two men, who said they attend an Afghani mosque, used their time at the microphone to give their own speech against the Sheikh. When they were politely asked to state their question, they refused, claiming freedom of speech. A female Moslem student expressed her support of terrorism by asking, "If not terrorism, what would Palestinians then do against the oppression?" Some of the students were holding Islamic rosaries and clothing that is usually worn when attending a mosque. They were loud, rude, 'in your face' and obviously did not want to ask questions, but just came to be disrespectful to Professor Palazzi. 

They yelled 'we cannot live with Zionism' and even told the professor "You are finished man!" The Moslem students' leader then called on his group to leave the hall and as they did they were hurling insults at the Sheikh. 

On the other hand, the other students who were in shock, many of whom were Jewish, were extremely respectful and were going out of their way to be polite to the Moslem students.

Having witnessed this disturbing event, I could not help but ask myself a question. Why did these kids choose the US for their education? They obviously have no respect for our system and the way Americans channel dissent. This is the wrong way to get sympathy from the American public. I believe that a strong P.R. movement on our college campuses and media is orchestrated and paid for from the Middle East. 

Whether these students are naturalized citizens or on student visas, I think they should show sensitivity to the USA, who suffered greatly from the unprecedented terrorism of 9/11 which, after all, was the product of the Arab culture of indoctrination against non-Moslems. These students who wanted to silence Sheikh Palazzi did not impress me as being in the US for the purpose of higher education. 

Having grown up in the Arab world myself, I believe that expectations in the Moslem world are often hypocritical. Arab Moslems especially do not reciprocate much of their demands from the West. They demand tolerance for Moslems in the West while their religious leaders call on the murder of infidels. They demand freedoms to build mosques in the West, but prohibit building churches and synagogues in Moslem countries. They jail and kill missionaries in the Moslem world, while they freely preach Islam and extremism to our citizens, even to our vulnerable and angry prison population. Moslems were demonstrating all over the Arab world against France's decision to prohibit wearing any religious symbols, including Hijab, in French public schools. France is trying to keep their public schools free of religious bias; Moslem demonstrators want to interfere in France's internal affairs to keep the peace. There is something very wrong in this picture and many Arabs and freedom loving Americans don't see it. The nave American has to wake up.

I had the pleasure of speaking at that event in support of the Professor. I told the audience of the indoctrination of hate I experienced in Gaza as a child. 

Those who demonstrated against Sheikh Palazzi's presentation could have learned from his message against terrorism. Many US politicians keep saying that Islam is a religion of peace, but I sadly felt that the Muslim students at UCSB rejected the courageous message of peace offered by Professor Sheikh Palazzi. The world is waiting and hoping to see the humane and tolerant side of Islam and Moslems never miss an opportunity to prove otherwise. It is essential now that Moslems work to elevate their religion from being associated with terror and hate.


Nonie Darwish is a freelance writer and speaker and is an American of Arab/Moslem background. Her website is and e-mail:




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