EAST LANSING – When British Nationalist Nick Griffin took the podium at a Friday night Michigan State University event, he tried to explain how Islam is a threat to Western civilization.
Protesters wouldn’t have it. Hurling obscenities and using chants to interrupt his address, rambunctious student organizations forced Griffin to abandon his speech and allow an informal question and answer session.
“We have all come from different backgrounds,” said Authra Khreis, 17, a pre-med student and a protester. “We should accept one another. I don’t think he should be allowed to speak. You can use free speech until you hurt another person.”
Griffin was invited to campus by a conservative student organization called Young Americans for Freedom, or YAF. Kyle Bristow, chairman of YAF, said his organization invited Griffin to promote intellectual debate.
Bristow said he doesn’t believe in many of the ideas Griffin has preached, particularly his alleged denial of the Holocaust, but does agree that the Islamic faith is a threat to America.
“I’ll stop saying their religion is terrible when they stop flying planes into buildings,” he said. “Islam is horrible. The extreme in Christianity is ‘love thy neighbor,’ with Islam it is violence.”
One student who engaged in a particularly long debate with Griffin was Junaid Mattu, a finance junior from India. “I am a supporter of free speech, but at the same time there has to be a benchmark,” he said. “Why does MSU time and time again show its insensitivity to minorities by inviting racists?”