"Major universities in the Washington area will be among more than 70 U.S. campuses participating in nationwide "Islamo Fascism Awareness Day" events today.
The events at Georgetown, Catholic University and George Washington University in the District, George Mason University in Fairfax and the University of Maryland's Baltimore County campus will feature screenings of "Obsession," a documentary film about Islamic radicalism, as well as discussions of related issues, including terrorism and the war in Iraq.
The campus project was planned by conservative writer and activist David Horowitz as a response to attempts last year by officials at Pace University to prevent a Jewish student group from hosting a screening of "Obsession" on the university's West-chester, N.Y., campus.
Mr. Horowitz, whose Terrorism Awareness Project is sponsoring tomorrow's events, said the use of the term "Islamofascism" is part of the educational mission of the "teach-ins" planned around the film showings.
"The most important thing is to make people recognize who the enemy is. People cringe when we use the word 'Islamofascism' because they haven't been prepared for it," he said in a telephone interview, adding that there are real similarities between Islamic extremism and the fascism of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. "It's not for nothing that the Iranian army goose-steps."
"Obsession" won best feature-film honors at the 2005 Liberty Film Festival. It has been widely praised by conservatives and broadcast on the Fox News Channel.
The movie made headlines when members of the Pace chapter of Hillel, a collegiate Jewish organization, said they were "intimidated" by university administrators after a campus Muslim group complained of Hillel's plan to show the documentary in November as part of Judaism Awareness Week.
Pace President David A. Caputo last month said "no such coercion or intimidation was intended" and apologized "for any action that may have unfortunately led to that belief."
Pace is among the schools where "Obsession" will be shown as part of this week's "teach-in." Other universities participating in the project include Notre Dame, Ohio State, Columbia and Dartmouth.
Several of the events will feature special hosts introducing "Obsession." Former Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, will host the Georgetown screening; other hosts include talk-radio personalities Allan Nathan at George Washington, Frank Pastore at the University of California at Los Angeles, Melanie Morgan at San Francisco State University and Martha Zoller at Georgia Tech.
The use of campus "teach-ins" reflects Mr. Horowitz's history as an early leader of the 1960s-era student New Left movement that opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In the 1970s, Mr. Horowitz became disillusioned with the movement, renounced his pro-communist past and advocated the re-election of President Reagan in 1984. In recent years, Mr. Horowitz has increasingly focused his activism toward colleges and universities.
"There's a pall of political correctness over the campuses," Mr. Horowitz said.
Despite his support for the Iraq war and his staunch Republicanism he was one of the so-called "Pioneers" who helped raise contributions for President Bush's election campaign in 2000 Mr. Horowitz is critical of the Bush administration's use of the term "war on terror" to describe its policies since the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks.
"Terrorism is an inadequate word," Mr. Horowitz said. "It's true that the enemy uses terror as a first weapon, but it's inadequate to understand what we are up against. It's about a mass movement of fanatics who want to convert the world to Islam and Shariah law."