Appeals court: Prof can teach about religious justification in Islamic terror

A ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means a professor at Scottsdale Community College can teach about the religious justification in Islamic terrorism without violating a Muslim student’s rights.

Steven Emerson at the Investigative Project on Terrorism has documented the results of the court fight.

The appeals court has affirmed a district judge’s ruling from 2020 that dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim activist organization, on behalf of student Mohamed Sabra.

That district judge, Susan Brnovich, had concluded that the lesson on the terrorism associated with Islam “did not inhibit Mr. Sabra’s personal worship in any way.”

The judge wrote, “Curriculum that merely conflicts with a student’s religious beliefs does not violate the Free Exercise Clause.”

Instead, students only were asked to demonstrate they understood what was taught.

Emerson reported, “The appellate court agreed. In a 2-1 ruling, it found that ‘Sabra suffered no First Amendment injury through his mere exposure to inflammatory course materials.'”

Damask told the Investigative Project on Terrorism, “This is a win for civilization. Our values, our institutions are being eroded all around us. It’s an odd coalition of the left and multiculturalists and the psychotic, and they’re working to undermine everything that’s core, that’s central to America. And here’s one little bright spot that our core values, our institutions like higher education, have been saved.”

He continues to teach the World Politics course.

Explained Emerson, “CAIR’s lawsuit wanted to force the removal of course materials it claimed to ‘have the primary effect of disapproving of Islam.’ It also took issue with a slide in Damask’s lessons that featured an image of Islam’s prophet Muhammad.”

Islamic activists have worked on just such a campaign for years already, through international organizations like the United Nations, claiming that its agenda is to prevent the “defamation” of religions. It wants that “defamation” outlawed worldwide. However, in its proposals, only Islam is protected.

Damask told Emerson, “Their arguments are gibberish and I think they know that.” But he said CAIR was looking to “intimidate.”

When Sabra complained about the lesson, Damask had explained his course wasn’t “for” or “against” anything. Instead, it was focused on describing international politics.

Damask said, “In teaching about terrorism, understanding what is motivating tens of thousands of young men across the Muslim world, middle and upper class” to join jihad is significant.

The 9th Circuit said a previous 4th Circuit ruling already had found that asking students to know the facts about a religious teaching was not the same as requiring them to adopt it.

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