The Holocaust Memorial Center this week canceled a Feb. 26 appearance by a Michigan State University professor after Muslims expressed concerns that Indrek Wichman and the group that was sponsoring his appearance, The Michigan State University Young Americans for Freedom, are intolerant of Islam.
Wichman was warned by the university in 2006 after he sent an e-mail to members of the Muslim Student Association on campus defaming Islam and urging Muslims to “return to your ancestral homelands.”
The Michigan State University Young Americans for Freedom have sponsored campus events such as “Koran Desecration Day,” a contest in which students were asked to hunt down illegal immigrants and an initiative that urged the giving of “blankets infected with small pox” to Native American students.
The organization — which is sanctioned by the university as a student activity, although it is listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Law Poverty Center — also sponsored a trip to the United States by a nationalist British politician who has publicly denied the Holocaust.
At the event in the Holocaust Memorial Center, Wichman was to speak on the topic of Muslims and free speech.
“At the beginning, I’m sure we did not know all that this was about,” said Gail Cohen, a coordinator at the Holocaust Memorial Center.
“When we found out what kind of group it was, we said, ‘No, no, no!’? “
Cohen said that Mark Siegel, of the Zionist Organization of America, brought the Young Americans for Freedom event to the Holocaust Memorial Center. Repeated attempts to reach Siegel were unsuccessful.
Wichman, was not available for comment. Kyle Bristow, chairman of the MSU Young American for Freedom did not return phone calls.
“We welcome the Holocaust Memorial Center’s decision not to sponsor anti-Muslim bigotry at a location that symbolizes the grave consequences of hatred and intolerance,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations-Michigan.