Watch CBS News

Assemblyman Claims Activist Associates With Radical Islamists, Should Not Speak At CUNY Commencement

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.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.