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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA instructor stands by controversial opinion

Grant Jefferies
Military personnel listen to President Barack Obama as he speaks at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The president was briefed by commanders at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) regarding the terrorist threat posed by ISIS. (Grant Jefferies/Bradenton Herald/MCT)

A UA instructor has been under fire for recent comments made in an online opinion piece. Musa al-Gharbi, who serves as an academic affiliate at the Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts and an adjunct instructor at the UA, published an opinion piece regarding the U.S. military and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on the website Truthout.

In the piece, titled “How Much Moral High Ground Does the U.S. Have Over ISIS?”, al-Gharbi writes that the U.S. military is “a greater threat” to peace in the Middle East than ISIS.

“Without question, ISIS is an abomination,” al-Gharbi writes. “… It would not be a stretch to say that the United States is actually a greater threat to peace and stability in the region than ISIS.”

Chris Sigurdson, the senior associate vice president of university relations, said in an email that al-Gharbi’s writings were not representative of the UA.

“Musa al-Gharbi … was not writing for any part of his employment at the University of Arizona,” Sigurdson said. “… He is a limited-term adjunct instructor who teaches one class at a branch campus and [is] part of a volunteer research collective that receives no state or university funding. I am not aware of any violation of university policy.”

Sigurdson also said the sentiments expressed in al-Gharbi’s piece “have offended and distressed many in the [UA] community and beyond.”

Al-Gharbi said in an email interview that people’s opinions regarding his piece were based on representations from Fox News and The Washington Free Beacon. He also said the claims these news organizations made were misquotes or not included at all in his opinions piece.

“Unfortunately, most people who were forming an opinion on my remarks were basing their outrage on rather disgusting caricatures from Fox and the Washington Beacon,” al-Gharbi said. The intent of the piece, al-Gharbi said in the email, was to point out that the U.S. needs to focus on its own issues first before entering in a war against ISIS.

“The point of the article was to say basically, ‘Before we let our politicians drag us into another ill-conceived and unending war — we have a lot of issues to resolve at home. Including, perhaps especially, with regards to the men and women we plan on deploying to these war zones,’” al-Gharbi said in the email.

Al-Gharbi also mentioned in the email that he met with Mark McKenna, the vice president of the UA Student Veterans of America, and Ricardo Pereyda, who he said expressed support for his piece.

“Not only did they agree with my right to voice these criticisms — a right they were fighting to preserve — but they actually agreed with most of the content of the essays as well,” al-Gharbi said in the email.

Al-Gharbi added that the comments made about his opinions piece focused on the fact that he is Muslim and said he should be deported. Al-Gharbi was born in the U.S.

“The implication is that Muslims, immigrants and other minorities do not have a right to address these issues,” al-Gharbi said in the email, “that they are in some sense, ‘second-class’ citizens. I find that to be un-American.”

Follow Holly Halstead on Twitter.

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