- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 7 (UPI) — The University of South Florida has not yet announced a decision on whether to fire a Palestinian professor who has alleged ties to terrorism despite his efforts to speed up the process.

But officials said Tuesday they would proceed with a series of reviews generated by a charge of discrimination based on his religion and ethnicity.

Al Arian filed a grievance charging university President Judy Genshaft violated his American Association of University Professors collective bargaining agreement by disciplining him without cause, and violated his right to academic freedom and nondiscrimination.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew last year refused to issue a declaratory judgment on whether Al Amin could be fired without violating his constitutional rights.

The judge said a ruling "would not be a wise and practical use of judicial resources."

The university has until Jan. 16 to file an appeal.

Al Arian is on mandatory administrative leave and is banned from the campus. The grievance seeks to overturn both orders, but Genshaft said they were ordered for Al Arian's own protection. She said the university has received a dozen threats on Al Arian's life.

The case first surfaced in the mid-1990s, but a review of his past commissioned by the university in 1996 found no reason to discipline him.

He was also investigated by federal agents who suspected that his Islamic think tanks were fronts for Middle Eastern terrorists. No charges were filed.

The case returned to the public eye Sept. 26 with an appearance on Bill O'Reilly's show on the Fox News Channel. He was once again accused of supporting terrorism and the federal government announced a year ago it was investigating him again.

Al Arian has said he is a victim of Sept. 11 hysteria and that any disruption of the university comes from the reaction to him and not from any of his actions.

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