Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Calls on Colleges to Protect Pro-Palestine Protesters

A new CAIR report alleges free speech violations and rising Islamaphobia and anti-Palestinian racism at over 400 colleges.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Calls on Colleges to Protect Pro-Palestine Protesters

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., released a report Tuesday it says documents “free speech violations and rising Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism at colleges and universities to over 400 school leaders across the country.”

The group is calling on university leaders to start engaging in “good faith” negotiations with students protesting the war in Gaza and to prevent harassment and discrimination against Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab students, faculty, and staff.

“In a complete violation of the university’s traditional role as a space of academic freedom, many universities have essentially thrown their own students, faculty, and staff under the bus for expressing political opinions that they do not agree with or that threaten their investment portfolio,” said CAIR Research and Advocacy Coordinator Farah Afify. “In particular, Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim affiliates who are being harassed and assaulted by students, staff, and even faculty at their own institution are being met with closed doors and, in some cases, threats from the very people who are supposed to protect them.”

Titled “‘Hostile: How Universities Target Anti-Genocide Protesters While Enabling Anti-Palestinian Racism and Islamophobia,” the report documents “key trends on university campuses starting in October 2023 and leading up to the current crisis.” The two trends allege:

  1. Many universities have allowed external actors, as well as their own students and faculty, to attack Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students with little, if any, repercussions
  2. Many university administrators have themselves used disciplinary action and police violence to silence anti-genocide protesters on their campus

The report concludes with several recommendations for universities, including a call for administrators to stop targeting anti-genocide protesters with “police violence and arbitrary disciplinary action.”

“Rather than engage in uncomfortable conversation, a fundamental value in higher education and an expectation that many universities actually have of their own students, many university administrators have chosen police batons and tear gas,” the authors wrote. “This report is another component of CAIR’s support for anti-genocide protesters. If university administrators actually want the student protests to end, they need to stop meeting peaceful students with violence and start negotiating with students over their very clear, legitimate, and popular demands, including divestment from companies profiting from genocide.”

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