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Petition Calls Op-Ed by Harvard Summer School Instructor Offensive to Muslims

27 July 2011 General 3 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
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Harvard Shield

By LEANNA B. EHRLICH, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

Article advocated for steps such as disenfranchising non-Hindus as a means of combatting terrorism, provoking outrage and calls for his ouster

A group of Harvard students have started a petition calling on the University to sever ties with Subramanian Swamy, a Harvard Summer School economics instructor who wrote an op-ed against Islamic terrorism that many have called offensive and inflammatory.

In an article published July 16 in the Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis, Swamy recommended demolishing hundreds of mosques, disenfranchising non-Hindus who do not acknowledge their alleged Hindu ancestry, and banning conversion from Hinduism.

The op-ed came in response to a series of bombings in Mumbai that killed 23 on July 13.

“The first lesson to be learnt from the recent history of Islamic terrorism against India and for tackling terrorism in India is that the Hindu is the target and that Muslims of India are being programmed by a slow reactive process to become radical and thus slide into suicide against Hindus,” Swamy wrote.

His op-ed spurred over 200 people to sign a petition condemning Swamy and calling on Harvard to end its relationship with him.

“These are statements you’d expect a demagogue on the extreme right to say,” Umang Kumar, a student at Harvard Divinity School, said, “but a professor who comes here, who got his Ph.D. from Harvard?”

Kumar and Sanjay J. Pinto, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and social policy, organized the petition with a small group of peers and then emailed it out to an initial group of 80 students.

“Both of us decided we really needed to take action,” Pinto said. “His comments are wrong on many levels. They put forth a vision of Indian society in which not all religious groups are welcome, which is very different from the India that both of us know.”

In an interview, Swamy said that he is a religiously tolerant person.

“I can’t condemn all Muslims. I’m not against them,” Swamy said. “I never said Muslims as a whole are terrorists.”

However, the petition accuses Swamy of using the July 13 bombings to write a piece that is inflammatory towards Muslims.

“Swamy has exploited this event not only to promote a vision of Indian society based on Hindu supremacy, but to disparage and cast suspicion on the entire Muslim community in India,” the petition states.

At the Summer School, Swamy teaches Economics S-110: “Quantitative Methods in Economics and Business” and Economics S-1316: “Economic Development in India and East Asia.”

In a statement sent by a spokesperson, Donald H. Pfister, the dean of Harvard Summer School, said that the school will examine the issue.

“At this point we have only a basic awareness of the situation and have not been contacted by the organizations involved,” Pfister said. “Professor Swamy is a long-time member of the Harvard Summer School faculty who previously was a member of the Department of Economics here. We will give this matter our serious attention.”

Pinto and Kumar plan to deliver their petition to the Harvard administration early next week.

“Swamy draws a lot of prestige and legitimacy from his position at Harvard,” Pinto said. “If the Hindu right were to come into power in India, he could very well be someone who takes up a position in government, so I think it’s important for members of this community to play a part in discrediting him and saying, ‘No, he does not represent us.’”

In India, Swamy leads the Janata party, a political party that held the majority of India’s Parliament decades ago but has since fragmented. At Harvard, he earned his Ph.D. in economics in 1965 and has served as an assistant and associate professor.

Swamy said that the Indian response to his op-ed has been positive.

“I don’t think anyone in India, except the left wing, has been upset by my article,” he said. “There has been wholesale support.”

But the backers of the petition were hardly supportive of the piece.

“Not allowing Hindus to convert to any other religion, not allowing other groups to vote unless they proudly declare their Hindu ancestry—it’s honestly kind of absurd,” Pinto said.

Kumar and Pinto both said that while freedom of speech is an integral part of a thriving academic community like Harvard, Swamy’s comments crossed a line.

“They stereotype an entire population of people,” Pinto said. “How can this man who expresses these views, who’s basically saying that India should only be for Hindus and not for other people, and denigrating all Muslims, how can he teach students at Harvard?”

—Staff writer Leanna B. Ehrlich can be reached at lehrlich@college.harvard.edu.

Original post: Petition Calls Op-Ed by Harvard Summer School Instructor Offensive to Muslims

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3 Comments »

  1. [2.216] Fighting is enjoined on you, and h is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.
    [2.217] They ask you concerning the sacred month about fighting in it. Say: Fighting in it is a grave matter, and hindering (men) from Allah’s way and denying Him, and (hindering men from) the Sacred Mosque and turning its people out of it, are still graver with Allah, and persecution is graver than slaughter; and they will not cease fighting with you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can; and whoever of you turns back from his religion, then he dies while an unbeliever– these it is whose works shall go for nothing in this world and the hereafter, and they are the inmates of the fire; therein they shall abide.
    [2.218] Surely those who believed and those who fled (their home) and strove hard in the way of Allah these hope for the mercy of Allah and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
    [2.219] They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is a great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit. And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare. Thus does Allah make clear to you the communications, that you may ponder
    [2.220] On this world and the hereafter. And they ask you concerning the orphans Say: To set right for them (their affairs) is good, and if you become co-partners with them, they are your brethren; and Allah knows the mischief-maker and the pacemaker, and if Allah had pleased, He would certainly have caused you to fall into a difficulty; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.
    [2.221] And do not marry the idolatresses until they believe, and certainly a believing maid is better than an idolatress woman, even though she should please you; and do not give (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe, and certainly a believing servant is better than an idolater, even though he should please you; these invite to the fire, and Allah invites to the garden and to forgiveness by His will, and makes clear His communications to men, that they may be mindful.
    [2.222] And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.

  2. You know, I do not agree with what the man says, but it does seem to reflect the way some Muslims feel about other religions. How many Muslim countries forbid people from converting from Islam under the pain of inprisonment or death? In how many Islamic countries is the minorities given fewer rights. How many limit the number of non Islamic religious building that can be built. It seems to me this man has simply projected the Islamic policy of other states and simply placed Hinduism where the word Islam would have been.

  3. It’s high time. Start campaigning……Know the truth.. Internet will help you to cross check the facts.

    http://www.faithfreedom.org/

    Read Ali sina’s website. wiki search calcutta quoran petition. Read ex-muslims

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