SCOTTSDALE, AZ.- A college professor at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona is facing threats to his life after he suggested that perhaps Islam was not the “religion of peace” it was purported to be.
As if to confirm exactly what the professor had inferred by way of some quiz questions, he began to receive death threats against him and his family. Here is what happened.
According to PJ Media, Professor Nicholas Damas, Ph.D., has been teaching political science at the college for 24 years. However, since a college Instagram post got attention, his family, which includes his 9-year-old grandson and 85-year-old parents are in hiding.
Meanwhile, officials at the college are demanding that he apologize. Why? Because he had the audacity to speak about what he believes is the motivating ideology behind Islam and Jihad.
Damas is no amateur. He has an MA in International Relations from the American University in Washington, D.C> and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati. He says that he is to “[his] knowledge the only tenured political science faculty currently teaching in Arizona to write a doctoral dissertation on terrorism.”
Damas has been teaching the college’s World Politics curriculum for his entire 24-year tenure.
So, what led to Prof. Damask’s current situation? Apparently, a student took exception to three quiz questions offered during the spring semester. The questions were as follows, with the answers following:
- Who do terrorists strive to emulate? A. Mohammed
- Where is terrorism encouraged in Islamic doctrine and law? A. The Medina verses [i.e. the portion of the Qur’an traditionally understood as having been revealed later in Muhammad’s prophetic career]
- Terrorism is _________ in Islam. A. justified within the context of jihad.
As Damask explained:
“All quiz questions on each of my quizzes, including the ones in question here, are carefully sourced to the reading material. On this quiz, questions were sourced to the Qur’an, the hadiths, and the sira (biography) of Mohammed, and other reputable source material.”
The three questions, according to sources are established by reference to Islamic texts and teachings, along with the statements of terrorists themselves.
The student in question emailed Damask to complain, saying that he was “offended” by the questions, saying that they were “in distaste of Islam.” Damask recalled:
“Until this point, notably, the student had expressed no reservations about the course material and indeed he said he enjoyed the course.”
Damask said that he answered the student’s emails to address his issues, however that was to no avail. He said that soon thereafter, a social media campaign started against him on social media, on the school’s Instagram account.
Damask said that “an unrelated school post about a school contest was hijacked, with supporters of the student posting angry, threatening, inflammatory and derogatory messages about the quiz, the school and myself.”
This often happens when Christians or Jesus are criticized by left-wing people on college campuses, right? Not so much.
So of course, Damask, being a 24-year tenured professor at the school got some backup from the college administration, right? Nope.
Damask said that college officials “stepped in to assert on a new Instagram post that the student was correct and that I was wrong—with no due process and actually no complaint ever being filed—and that he would receive full credit for all the quiz questions related to Islam and terrorism.”
Damask said that on May 1, he had a conference call with Kathleen Iudicello, the college’s Dean of Instruction, and Eric Sells, Public Relations Marketing Manager. He recalled:
“I was not offered to write any part of the school’s response, and there was no discussion of academic freedom or whether the College was even supportive of me to teach about Islamic terrorism.
“The very first point I made with them on the call (and virtually the only input I had) is that I insisted that the College’s release was to have no mention of any actions to be required to be taken by me personally, I was very clear about that.”
The college ignored that part.
An apology was issued to both the student and to the “Islamic community,” and it stated on the college’s Instagram page that Damask would be “required” to apologize to the student of the quiz questions, as the questions were “inappropriate” and “inaccurate” and would be permanently removed from Damask’s exams.
Damask said that he had three calls with Iudicello, where she apparently stated Damask’s quiz questions “were ‘Islamophobic.’”
She also suggested that he get “with an Islamic religious leader to go over the content” before he had any additional class content on Islamic terrorism. She also suggested that he go and “take a class (perhaps at Arizona State) taught by a Muslim before teaching about Islamic terrorism.”
Damask called the phone call pure “irony.” He said that while he was on this particular phone call, he and his wife “were tossing socks and jammies and our nine-year-old grandson’s toys into a suitcase” after death threats were made by Islamic commenters on the Instagram page, forcing he and his family to flee their home.
Apparently, college officials had no problem with the comments that were filling up their Instagram page, making threats against Damask, including:
“If he is still around I suggest the students take action to make sure he isn’t”;
“Drop the professor’s address I just wanna talk”;
“What’s the instructor’s name and address, I just want to say hi”;
“I wish everything bad on these kuffar” [unbelieves];
“I hope he suffers.”
Religion of peace, indeed.
Damask noted that “there are literally hundreds of posts like this. There have been death threats, at least one call for a school shooting and at lest one call to burn down the school. Again, all of these threats are still on the college’s Instagram page.”
Damask stated that he had asked the school police to shut down the Instagram posts considering the death threats, however they only told him they were “monitoring” the situation. The threats were not removed.
Last week, the school sent Damask the apology they were mandating him make to the “offended” student. He was instructed to write:
“I know a simple apology may not be enough to address the harm that I caused but I want to try to make amends.”
He was then told to promise the peace-loving Islamic student:
“I will be reviewing all of my material to ensure there’s no additional insensitivities.”
Damask was unfazed, saying that he is unapologetic and will not issue the apology.
“It goes without saying that I will not apologize for anything, that it is perfectly appropriate to discuss Islam, Muhammad, the Qur’an, the hadiths and any other matter related to Islamic terrorism.
Incidentally: there has been no official complaint, no due process for me, just a mad scramble by the school to appease Islam.”
The experiences seems to have left a rather bitter taste in Professor Damask’s mouth, and it is understandable why.
The Professor stated:
“The college has displayed an appalling lack of respect toward my rights; it has essentially engaged in defamation by terming my course material inaccurate, insensitive and that I have violated the college’s values; has denied my civil rights through waiving any and all due process procedures; violated my First Amendment rights by demanding I make an apology to the student; and violated my First Amendment and civil rights by demanding I alter my course material. Further and perhaps worse, I believe the school has effectively encouraged and permitted these threats to be made against me when the school could have immediately put a stop to them, which is tantamount to allowing mob threats against me.”
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