NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Controversy was mounting Friday evening over a decision by the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health to invite a pro-Palestinian activist as the commencement speaker.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, activist Linda Sarsour has spoken out against the NYPD surveillance of Muslim communities under former Commissioner Ray Kelly.

“We were inviting him to our front door,” Sarsour told CBS2’s Tony Aiello on Feb. 18, 2013. “He was sending us confidential informants to our back door.”

Sarsour has also frequently been the public face of the concerns of local Palestinians.

Now, state Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) said Sarsour’s activisim – and her support of Sharia Law – makes her unfit to by the speaker at the June commencement.

“She is someone who associates with radical Islamists; supports them; shows support for them. She is someone who has said, clearly, she thinks throwing rocks at cars in Israel is a good thing,” Hikind said.

Hikind was referring to a tweet Sarsour put out on Oct. 11, 2015, showing a young boy apparently throwing rocks at Israelis with the caption saying, “the definition of courage.”

“I mean, it’s just nuts. It makes no sense. It’s crazy to have this woman be the person who’s going to speak to the students,” Hikind said.

Hikind said a taxpayer-funded school like CUNY should not have invited Sarsour and should disinvite her. But CUNY is having none of it.

“The program has not changed,” said CUNY School of Public Health Dean Ayman El-Mohandes.

Sarsour did not respond to repeated attempts to reach her, but the school said former President Barack Obama named her a “champion of change.”

The school pointed out that Sarsour supported efforts by local Muslims to raise funds to repair a recently-vandalized Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.

People who spoke to CBS2 on Friday were divided about Sarsour should have been invited.

“Probably not a good idea,” one woman said.

“I don’t see why not,” another said.

Joining the 154 graduates in the commencement will be New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, who will receive an honorary doctorate of science degree.

Comments (3)
  1. Choosing a really controversial, divisive, anti semitic, terrorist and sharia proponent like Linda Sarsour whom the Muslim president of a CUNY school chose as commencement speaker is beyond the pale. That’s a FORCED audience and platform, not just people who are interested. You should not be FORCED to listen to anything, much less something you hate when celebrating the pinnacle of your achievement. That’s not free speech, that’s forced tacit agreement, and the University taking a position after which no Jewish student will feel safe. If it was David Duke there’d be a New York Times front page story on it. But because it’s a leftist darling it’s not?

  2. Donna Ross says:

    Colleges having problems inviting and hosting controversial speakers is nothing new. In the 1960s, a researcher named “Shockley”, I believe, was unable to speak on college campuses because of his views, based on his research, which suggested that some races/ethnic groups were more intelligent than others. The students refused to allow him to speak. The BEST way to deal with speakers with whom you disagree is to debate them. Answer “fire” with “fire”. Destroy their arguments with FACTS!

  3. “Hikind said a taxpayer-funded school like CUNY should not have invited Sarsour and should disinvite her. But CUNY is having none of it”

    If it were a conservative, they’d have folded in a minute

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