Distancing itself from the remarks, Michigan State University (MSU) said professor Indrek Wichman was exercising his free speech right when describing Muslims as “brutal and uncivilized” and telling Muslim students to return to their “ancestral homelands.”
“He was cautioned that any additional commentary … could constitute the creation of a hostile environment, and that could … form the basis of a complaint,” Terry Denbow, a spokesman for MSU, was quoted as saying by Detroit Free Press. He stressed that the remarks, though “very inappropriate,” do not violate the university’s antidiscrimination policy.
In an e-mail to the university’s Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) on February 28, Wichman wrote: “I counsul [sic] you dissatisfied, agressive [sic], brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems [sic] to be very aware of this as you proceed with your infantile ‘protests’.” He was referring to global protests against Danish cartoons that ridiculed Prophet Muhammad.
“If you do not like the values of the West – see the 1st Ammendment [sic] – you are free to leave. I hope for God’s sake that most of you choose that option. Please return to your ancestral homelands and build them up yourselves instead of troubling Americans.”
The Muslim Students’ Association called Monday for the university to issue a letter of reprimand. They have met several times with university officials since February 28 and went public with the e-mail Monday because the school had not acted. The student group also wants the university to implement diversity training programs for faculty and a mandatory freshman seminar on hate and discrimination.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has also urged the university to reprimand the professor.
“The university needs to take appropriate disciplinary action in this case to demonstrate through its actions that anti-Muslim bigotry will not be tolerated on campus,” Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan chapter of CAIR, said in a statement on the group’s website. He said that it is “unconscionable” for a professor to use his university e-mail account to “foster a hostile learning environment for Muslim students.”
This is the text of the email (spelling corrected):
Dear Moslem Association:
As a professor of Mechanical Engineering here at MSU I intend to protest your protest. I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders, murders of Catholic priests (the latest in Turkey!), burnings of Christian churches, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavian girls and women (called “whores” in your culture), the murder of film directors in Holland, and the rioting and looting in Paris France.
This is what offends me, a soft-spoken person and academic, and many, many, many of my colleagues. I counsel you dissatisfied, aggressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems to be very aware of this as you proceeded with your infantile “protests.” If you do not like the values of the West – see the 1st Amendment – you are free to leave.
I hope for God’s sake that most of you choose that option.
Please return to your ancestral homelands and build them up yourselves instead of troubling Americans.
I. S. Wichman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering