ADC Urges USF to Respect Tenure, Academic Freedom in Al-Arian Case
Washington, DC — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today urged the University of South Florida to reinstate Prof. Sami Al-Arian, who has been dismissed as a result of a media controversy generated by the FoxNews program “The O’Reilly Factor.” ADC President Ziad Asali said “Prof. Al-Arian has done nothing that would justify his removal from USF. It may be true that unsubstantiated accusations and implications leveled against him by media figures have made him an unpopular person in some quarters. But the principle of academic freedom demands that he be allowed to engage in legitimate political activity and free speech without being punished. ADC strongly suspects that this is a case of ethnic discrimination and that if Prof. Al-Arian was not an Arab, a Palestinian and a Muslim, he would not have been dismissed from his tenured faculty position. In any event, we strongly urge USF to respect tenure and academic freedom, reverse their decision and reinstate Prof. Al-Arian.”
Although Al-Arian has been accused by a number of media commentators of having associations with persons who later became linked to political violence, years of investigations into his activities revealed no evidence whatever of criminal or illegal activity. He has never been charged with any crime. Al-Arian strongly denounced the attacks of Sept. 11, however both USF President Judy Genshaft and Provost David Stamps have said that the decision to terminate Al-Arian should be “viewed in the context” of these attacks. The Faculty Senate refused to support USF’s action in firing Al-Arian, who is being supported by his union, the United Faculty of Florida.
ADC believes that USF’s stated reasons for dismissing Al-Arian, including that death threats against him pose a danger to students and staff, that he once came to campus after being instructed not to, and that he failed to make it clear that he was not a spokesperson for USF are not convincing, do not justify his dismissal, and would not have led to the firing of other professors.