At Harvard, Controversy Over "American Jihad" Speech

May 29, 2002

Source: The Boston Globe

On May 29, 2002, The Boston Globe featured the article "At Harvard, a word sparks a battle." It reported that "Harvard University senior Zayed Yasin says his upcoming graduation-day speech, titled 'The American Jihad,' will be a call to action, not a call to war. But Yasin's planned use of the term jihad ... has triggered a dispute over the limits of free speech even within a bastion of intellectual freedom." The article continued, "Yasin, a 22-year-old native of Scituate, said he simply wants to reclaim the positive definition of jihad... 'In the Muslim tradition, jihad represents a struggle to do the right thing,' he said." The article noted that "Last Friday, a handful of Harvard seniors launched a petition drive urging Harvard officials to allow students to read and assess the remarks before Yasin delivers them." Yasin responded that "'People are targeting me as some kind of monstrous anti-Semite ... It's all based on misunderstandings that are part of the tragedy of miscommunications in these times.'"