Fox News host Megyn Kelly renewed her criticism of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), this time for successfully pushing Brandeis University to revoke an honorary degree it had planned to award to an advocate for women’s rights in Islamic countries.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was set to receive the degree and speak to students during graduation ceremonies at Brandeis. The school announced Tuesday that it had rescinded the invitation, saying, “we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”

Ali is known as a critic of Islam, having once called it “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.” She was instrumental in creating a film, “Honor Diaries,” about the practice of “honor violence” against Muslim women. As The Foundry previously reported, Kelly last week slammed CAIR for working to censor the film on college campuses.

On “The Kelly File” on Thursday night, the Fox anchor challenged Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s communications director, to explain the group’s involvement in the Brandeis reversal. Kelly argued that the principles of free speech should apply to those who speak out against CAIR’s ideology and methods. “You don’t want to respond – you want silence,” she said.

Hooper repeatedly cited “Internet hate sites” as sources of what he called Islamophobia, but Kelly said of CAIR:

“You have gone after and threatened Reader’s Digest, the American Medical Association, U.S. News and World Report, Atlantic Monthly, the Dallas Morning News, Fox News. … Every time you hear something you don’t like, you try to shut down the message.”

Ali called the university’s argument “a very feeble excuse.”  Later on Kelly’s show, she said her commencement remarks would have emphasized to students “how incredibly privileged they are, especially the female students amongst them, that they’re growing up in a world that is free.”

In written remarks, Ali said:

“The ‘spirit of free expression’ referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced.”


This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.