Eisenstein says PUC clears him in free speech case

By February 28, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE (AP) – A political science professor at Purdue University Calumet said the Hammond campus has cleared him of nine complaints of discrimination and harassment, mostly over comments he allegedly made in the classroom about Islam and other topics.

Maurice Eisenstein said Tuesday his case was one of freedom of speech winning out over attempts to suppress it.

"I had nine complaints of harassment from faculty, students and one student group. And in all cases, the university found there was no evidence of harassment or discrimination," the associate professor of 19 years said.

The controversy surrounding Eisenstein grew last fall when the professor posted critical comments on his personal Facebook page about the prophet Muhammad, the central figure in Islam.

Student protests on campus were followed by complaints alleging various types of harassment and discrimination by Eisenstein inside and outside the classroom.

The 64-year-old Orthodox Jew said he believed he was targeted by faculty and students for his political belief and religious practice .

"You can’t be religious on a U.S. university campus unless you are Muslim. That is how it is," Eisenstein said.

Fawwaz Alshammari, the president of the Calumet Muslim Students Association, one of the complainants, said the group was considering an appeal of the decision. He said comments Eisenstein posted on his Facebook page have struck fear in some Muslim student.

In online postings, Eisenstein labeled the Muslim Students Association as "anti-Jewish" and called Muslims barbarians.

"Disseminating demonstrably false information under the guise of academia, including hateful and bigoted characterizations of Muslims at large, and creating an environment of intimidation for Muslim students, goes well beyond the pale," Alshammari said.

University spokesman Wes Lukoshus said he could not confirm the ruling or comment because it was a personnel matter.

Schools: Purdue University Northwest