Harvard University’s largest student-run organization will bestow a prestigious award on Nihad Awad, the Hamas-linked founder and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has proven ties to Islamic extremist and terror organizations.
FreeBeacon (h/t Marvin W) The Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) will be giving its Robert Coles “Call of Service” award to Nihad Awad, for his work to “defend the rights of Muslims” and for advancing “justice and mutual understanding.”
An online petition with over 500 signatures outlines the concerns some have with Awad, including the fact that he and the organization he created were named as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation terror-financing case. Five Holy Land Foundation executives were found guilty of funneling millions of dollars to the terror group Hamas.
Awad also explicitly stated his support for the “Hamas movement” during a 1994 speech, write the petitioners. (See video below)
These are influential recognitions for a man with past ties to Hamas, designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States in 1995. In fact, Awad publicly declared “I am in support of the Hamas movement,” during a March 1994 symposium at Barry University
He has repeatedly defended the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which was accused of illegally funneling millions of dollars to Hamas. On November 24, 2008, jurors in Dallas convicted the HLF defendants on 108 counts tied to its Hamas support. In handing down lengthy sentences to each defendant, U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis said it was clear “[t]he purpose of creating the Holy Land Foundation was as a fundraising arm for Hamas
Prior to founding CAIR, Awad worked as the public relations director for the Islamic Association of Palestine, which the petition notes was directly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
“While CAIR presents itself as a civil rights organization defending Muslims from discrimination, Awad’s organization has been criticized by many Muslims for claiming to speak in their name,” write the petitioners, citing a Gallup poll that showed fewer than 15% of Muslims think of CAIR as their voice.
Zainab Al-Suwaij, cofounder and executive director of the American Islamic Congress, said she was surprised a liberal university would give such an honor to an organization with CAIR’s history of ties radical Islamism.
“Especially considering the moment we are in right now, where we are all concerned with violent extremism and radicalization, in particular that of radical Islam,” said Al-Suwaij.
Al-Suwaij said she doubted any malice on the part of those who had decided to applaud Awad, chalking it up to ignorance. “But they had to educate themselves about the history of who they are dealing with,” she said.
Al-Suwaij believes her organization, founded in the wake of 9/11 following what she described as disappointment with the her community’s “very defensive response,” is more representative of the average American-Muslim than CAIR.
“We have no history of supporting political Islam, and we don’t share CAIR’s victimhood [mentality],” she said. “CAIR jumps at every occasion to play the Islamophobia card. We don’t.”
Awad went on national TV to claim that Muslims were in America before Columbus and they helped discover America: