A young protester stood outside a crowded auditorium Tuesday night and watched a scowling older woman approach her.

Sana Akhtar, a 23-year-old psychology and biology student at Florida Atlantic University, gripped a stack of fliers that decried Daniel Pipes, the controversial speaker scheduled to take the stage in 30 minutes. Like many of the 40 or so others who had gathered to protest Pipes, whose comments on Islam have been called racist and xenophobic, she held up a placard, on which she had written: “GUILTY … CUZ I’M A MUSLIM?”

The angry woman, a school employee with short reddish hair wearing a yellow FAU polo shirt, stood close to Akhtar and, according to the student and a dozen or so witnesses, muttered, “You don’t belong here.”

And then, for Akhtar and the others, a surreal experience: The woman spat on her.

The incident was one of a handful of nasty encounters that played out before Pipes spoke Tuesday night at the invitation of a student group, the Middle East and National Security Organization.

Once at the lectern, Pipes, who in 2004 accused an FAU professor of having ties to terrorist groups, said nothing very controversial. Even so, some in the audience bristled when he described moderate Muslims’ opposition to extremism as “incoherent” and ineffective. (MORE)


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