FLORIDA — The University of South Florida has placedone of its professors on paid administrative leave following commentshe made on the Fox News television show, "The O’Reilly Factor."
Palestinian native and professor Sami Al-Arian appeared onthe show’s Sept. 26 broadcast to discuss the relationship betweenthe university and the World and Islam Studies Enterprise, whichhe directed six years ago.
University President Judy Genshaft announced her decision toplace Al-Arian on leave in a written report to trustees.
"I want to make it clear that Dr. Al-Arian does not speakfor the University on these issues, and it is incorrect to suggesthis views represent USF in any fashion," she wrote. "Hisviews are his own. We have informed him that when he expresseshis views, he should make it clear at all times that he is speakingas a private person."
O’Reilly introduced Al-Arian on the show as "an associateprofessor of computer engineering at the University of South Florida."
During the interview Al-Arian and O’Reilly discussed the universityand Al-Arian’s connection to suspected terrorist Ramadan AbdullahShallah. O’Reilly said Shallah taught classes at the Universityof South Florida and Al-Arian is responsible for bringing Shallahto the United States.
O’Reilly also probed Al-Arian on his connection to two othermen discovered to have ties to the recent attacks and possibleconnections to Osama bin Laden.
Al-Arian received "many death threats and numerous hate-fillede-mails" after his interview with O’Reilly, according toa statement he issued. Due to these threats, campus police, thepresident and others determined that having Al-Arian on campusposed a safety concern.
Genshaft also said in her statement, "Clearly, the presenceof Dr. Al-Arian on the campus at this time adversely affects theoperation of the University. Dr. Al-Arian should not be presentat the University of South Florida in light of these very realconcerns for safety."
Full text of professor Sami Al-Arian’s statement is located at: http://news.tbo.com/news/MGAYC6SO6SC.html.