Oregon Professor Fired Over Islam Teaching

by | Dec 10, 2010 | Charisma Archive

Community College should
rehire a teacher that was fired after the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, complained about a class he was
scheduled to teach about Islam. So says the American Center for Law and Justice

The ACLJ is
arguing that the Eugene, Oreg.-based community college violated the contractual
and constitutional rights of the teacher, Barry Sommer,
by firing him and canceling the class in the wake of pressure from CAIR.

“The school had
approved the course and our client’s request to teach it. Only after CAIR got
involved did the school react—caving to political pressure and
intimidation—firing our client and canceling the course,” says CeCe Heil, ACLJ senior counsel, who is handling the case.
“The school clearly violated the First Amendment free speech rights of our

The class in
question was called “What is Islam?” The class aimed to introduce students to
the Quran and other viewpoints on Islam in a world where terrorism is a
constant threat. The stated purpose of this course was to provide a basic
understanding of Islamic doctrines so that students could make informed
decisions based on unbiased and current information.

According to the ACLJ, within a day after the course had been advertised
online, CAIR contacted college officials demanding that Sommer be removed
charging that he intended to promote “anti-Muslim bigotry” and
citing his involvement with Act! for America, an advocacy group that speaks
out in defense of America. CAIR labels them an anti-Muslim hate group. Within
hours after CAIR’s demand and press release, the college fired Sommer and
canceled the class.

disappointing that a community college that should uphold an environment of academic
freedom along with diversity and acceptance has failed to do so in this case,”
Heil says. “We’re demanding that the school rehire our client and reinstate the
class he had been scheduled to teach. If corrective action is not taken, we’re
prepared to take legal action to protect the rights of our client.”

Neither Lane
Community College nor CAIR was immediately available for comment, but the
college issued a published statement on the matter:

“The class was
canceled in order to more carefully consider, in consultation with faculty, how
best to provide a rich learning experience on religious topics. The decision
was made with due diligence and took into account many perspectives and issues
including academic freedom, impact on the community, intellectual inquiry, and

Lane Community
College claims misinformation has been posted on websites and reported in the
media. The college insists it did not and will not make instructional decisions
in response to pressure from any outside group, but rather on the college
mission and core values and on student, college and community needs.


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