I attended Dr. Eboo Patel’s speech last week. He is an inspiring speaker, and I applaud everything he said. However, it must be added that Patel is a controversial figure. Recently an Egyptian magazine, Rose el Youssef, accused Patel of being, “one of 6 Muslim Brotherhood operatives within the US government.” I do not know if that is true, but I believe that the Muslim Brotherhood is responsible for sending its followers in Egypt out to burn down Christian churches. Thus, any connection would indeed be troubling.
It is also widely reported that in July 2011, Patel was a featured speaker at an Islamic Society of North America conference (which is alleged to be an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) where he participated in a panel with New York-based radical Imam Siraj Wahhaj. Wahhaj, (an ISNA regular), who has called America “a filthy garbage can,” called for an Islamic takeover of the US, and was a character witness for the convicted terrorist “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman in his New York trial. I do not know what was discussed on that panel. Perhaps, Patel rebuked Wahhaj for his radical ideas. I would hope so.
Unfortunately, the Q & A at Patel’s speech on campus was structured to limit questions to pre-selected questioners. Thus, it was ensured that there would be no uncomfortable questions and those kinds of questions would not be answered or addressed. Personally, I would have liked to hear Patel refute those specific charges because I would like to be able to believe in him.
Such questions could have been asked in a respectful manner. However, when a university takes steps to prevent critical questions of a speaker, it is not fulfilling the true mission of a university, which is to expose students to different sides of the issues.
Gary Fouse is an adjunct instructor at UCI Extension. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org