Return Sheikh Zayeds kind gesture with respect: Look at the facts. sign now

As a proud, freethinking and non-bigoted former member of the Harvard University community a trait shared with a majority of my fellow students, faculty, staff, and alumni I would like to counter the (Zionist inspired?) Public Relations campaign being waged by a couple of misguided students in order to persuade Harvard Divinity School to return Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyans donation for the creation of a chair in Islamic studies.

I support the creation of a chair in Islamic studies at Harvard Divinity School. I have also taken the trouble to look beyond the surface and taken my information on Sheikh Zayed from many sources. I have also visited Sheikh Zayeds country and have formed my own opinions from my own experiences. Judging from their ill-informed arguments, I dare say the return the money campaigners cannot boast either.

To claim that Sheikh Zayed promotes hatred of Americans is outrageous. He is one of the USs key allies in the region. He has been a true friend to the US on countless occasions, even when it was politically difficult in the Arab world to be so. As an American I understand that and I am not alone. Over two hundred thousand Americans live and work in the United Arab Emirates, and I sincerely doubt if any would agree with a statement that he was anything but American friendly. They are, without doubt, better equipped to judge his record than a desk-bound student with an agenda, taking her opinions from the Internet.

Secondly, let us look at the statement that Sheikh Zayed abuses his own citizens. I challenge anyone to find an Emirati who would agree with this. I have lived all over the world. In all that time, I have never encountered a country where a people are so content, at peace with themselves and enamoured with their leadership. Arab-style Democracy may be alien to the Western world, but where a leader is benevolent, non-autocratic, humane and remains in touch with his people, it works better than our own system of Government.

Sheikh Zayed is beloved in the UAE, a symbol of nationhood and continuity. His word is trusted and respected. Show me a single Western politician who can boast the same.

Now let us look at the charge that an Arab League think tank based in Abu Dhabi is a hotbed of anti-Semitism and hatred for the United States. Some speakers have appeared there with controversial views. Yet the four pieces of evidence volunteered are four instances from thousands of speakers who have appeared at the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up.
Jimmy Carter and Al Gore, to name but a few, have also spoken at the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up. What do we make of this? Would these fine statesmen one a Nobel Peace Prize laureate ever consent to darken the doors of a center that is a hotbed of indecent thought?

Personally I agree that David Irving and Roger Garaudy are disgusting individuals. But what about free speech?

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is a model leader, who has steered his nation from abject poverty to modernity in a little more than three decades. He has been a fine statesman, using a moderate, conciliatory voice to prevent international conflicts and build bridges between religions and cultures.

While considering Sheikh Zayeds lifetime of achievement, it is also worthy of note that he is, according to what limited information is available, probably the biggest philanthropist the world has ever known. Since the early 1970s he had built and funded hundreds of schools, hundreds of orphanages and dozens of hospitals across the developing and third worlds. Sheikh Zayed has also been a friend to many countries in time of need. He has put billions of dollars into disaster relief, even to the United States, post-September 11 and in the wake of Hurricane Andrew being two examples that spring to mind.

These are the actions of a friend.

I resent that a misguided campaign, run by several misguided students, has sought to utilise the media and Internet and claim to speak for a majority. Their majority does not exist.

We the undersigned call upon President Lawrence Summers and Dean William Graham to maintain the integrity of Harvard University, not be swayed by an ill-judged, politically and religiously bigoted campaign organised by tiny a minority, and put to rest any doubts that Harvard University welcomes support from this great man.

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Brandie WernerBy:
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Harvard University


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