The Court rejected CAIR’s (Council on American Islamic Relations) Constitutional challenge to a professor’s critical teaching about Islamic terrorism.
For background on this story see:
Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch sums up the court decision better than most:
This is a victory for common sense and the freedom of speech, and a setback to Hamas-linked CAIR and others who are trying to intimidate the West into accepting Sharia blasphemy laws, but it is not a huge defeat for them, either. After all, as a campaign of intimidation, it has already served a great deal of its purpose. It has blackened the reputation of Nicholas Damask and of Scottsdale Community College, and made college and university administrators nervous that teaching that is critical of Islam, even accurate teaching about jihad violence and Sharia oppression, will get them embroiled in costly and time-consuming court battles. Better to leave the subject alone, or praise Islam fulsomely. Mission accomplished.
“Court Rejects Constitutional Challenge to Critical Teaching About Islamic Terrorism,” by Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy, August 18, 2020:
I think this is generally quite right, and indeed an important victory for academic freedom; professors, including those at public colleges, have to be able to speak freely about religious belief systems (whether Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or anything else), no less than other belief systems.
FromSabra v. Maricopa County Comm. College Dist., decided this morning by Judge Susan M. Brnovich (D. Ariz.):
Arising out of an Islamic Terrorism module in an online World Politics course taught by Dr. Nicholas Damask, this case tests the limits of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses. Mohamed Sabra enrolled in this spring semester course at Scottsdale Community College (“SCC”) in 2020. Its syllabus describes it as one that will provide an “[i]ntroduction to the principles and issues relating to the study of international relations. Evaluation of the political, economic, national, and transnational rationale for international interactions.”
The course is organized into six modules, each containing multiple components to explore various topics concerning world politics. The Islamic Terrorism module challenged by Mr. Sabra and the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Arizona … had three components: a PowerPoint presentation, excerpts from Future Jihad, and a quiz. The PowerPoint presentation explored world politics through three sub-topics: (1) “Defining Terrorism”; (2) “Islamic Terrorism: Definition”; and (3) “Islamic Terrorism: Analysis.” The second component required students to read excerpts from Future Jihad, a book published by Walid Phares, and the quiz evaluated students on their comprehension of course material with twenty-five multiple choice questions.
Plaintiffs take issue with Dr. Damask’s instruction throughout these various Islamic Terrorism module components, alleging that his teachings violate the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause …. Plaintiffs allege his instruction unconstitutionally “conclude[es] that Islam ‘mandates’ terrorism and the killing of Non-Muslims, and that this is the only interpretation of religious texts, but without any disclaimer to inform students that this is one-perspective and that Islam itself does not condone terrorism.” They further allege that Dr. Damask “is not teaching that only some extremists espouse these beliefs, but rather that literally, Islam itself teaches the mandates of terrorism.”
And “[t]he only objectively reasonable construction of [Dr.] Damask’s actions,” Plaintiffs allege, “is that his primary message is the disapproval of Islam.” As it specifically concerns the quiz, Plaintiffs allege “[it] forced [Mr.] Sabra to agree to [Dr. Damask’s] radical interpretation of Islam.” And when Mr. Sabra refused to answer questions in accordance with what he learned in the course, his answers were marked wrong, and his course grade was negatively impacted….