College District To Create Academic Freedom Committee After Professor Faced Backlash For Islam And Terrorism Test Question

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Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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An Arizona community college district came to a professor’s defense after the professor faced blacklash for quiz questions about Islam and terrorism, numerous sources reported.

After a student at Scottsdale Community College took offense to the quiz questions asked in a World Politics course’s unit on terrorism, the school apologized, saying it agreed with the student that the questions were inaccurate, AZ Central reported.

However, the Maricopa County Community College District said the questions were taken out of context and fell within the scope of the course. Steven Gonzales, the district’s interim chancellor, also announced that he was troubled by the school’s “rush to judgement” and for its lack of “full consideration for our professor’s right of academic freedom.”

“I apologize, personally, and on behalf of the Maricopa Community Colleges, for the uneven manner in which this was handled and for our lack of full consideration for our professor’s right of academic freedom,” Gonzales said in a statement according to AZ Central. (RELATED:Advocacy Group Raises Awareness Of Abductions Of Christian Women In Egypt, Forced Conversions To Islam)

The district is still launching an investigation and is also planning to form a Committee on Academic Freedom to underscore the importance of academic freedom in education and train staff to resolve academic freedom disputes. 

The investigation will not involve the professor, Nick Damask, who is at no risk of losing his job, Gonzales added. 

The professor says the questions were taken out of context. The questions included: “Where is terrorism encouraged in Islamic doctrine and law?” and “Who do Islamic terrorists strive to emulate?”

The correct answer for the latter question was specified as the Prophet Muhammed, chief prophet and central figure of the Islamic religion.

Damask told AZ Central that the questions were related to lessons on doctrinal justifications that Islamist terorrist groups like Al-Qaeda use, and that his class also explored the Jewish Zealot sect and Hindu Thuggee Cult.

Some have described the questions as “Islamophobic,” and the Council on American Islamic Relations took on the case to see “how many students were impacted by the hateful material,” the executive director of CAIR-Arizona tweeted.

“If there was such a thing as Mormon terrorism and Southern Baptist terrorism, we would have a unit on that, too,” Damask said. “But we don’t, so we don’t spend any time talking about that.”