The flyer posted on the UCLA campus advertised that Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl would lead "an informal discussion about Shariah and its role and impact in the West." Instead, students were treated to "a meandering, repetitive lecture that had little or nothing to do with the stated premise," wrote Cinnamon Stilwell and Eric Golub of Campus Watch.
Much of Abou El Fadl's November 3 talk consisted of outlandish falsehoods about writers who have criticized radical Islam, including Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson and Robert Spencer.
To illustrate how lucrative "Islam bashing" and "Shariah bashing" have supposedly become, Abou El Fadl claimed that Spencer made $4 million last year and received $10,000 per speech. To make $4 million at $10,000 per speech would require that Spencer give more than 400 speeches per year – more than one a day.
"I have never made $4 million a year, or anything close to it," Spencer said in response. "I have never charged $10,000 for a talk, or anything close to it. Khaled Abou El Fadl is lying outright."
Abou El Fadl, who teaches Islamic jurisprudence at the UCLA School of Law, also quoted Spencer as stating that Islam lacks "an interpretative tradition." Spencer responded: "I never said that. I said they don't have an interpretative tradition that mitigates the literal force of the Qu'ranic verses inciting to violence. Obviously, they have an interpretative tradition; I discuss it at length in several books."
Abou El Fadl also claimed that Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, is regularly invited to "the very influential Ethics and Public Policy Institute," a think tank based in Qatar. "Emerson is a regular" at these events, sponsored by the Qatari royal family, Abou El Fadl claimed. "He brags about it constantly –he rubs elbows with the ambassadors, with the royals. The irony is…he gets to tell these people 'you're terrorists, you're animals, you're disgusting' and he'll be invited again and welcomed again and celebrated again."
Emerson countered that 1) he is not a member of the Ethics and Public Policy Institute; 2) he had never been to Qatar; and 3) he has never conferred with Qatari royalty.
In a separate column, Pipes also said Abou El Fadl distorted his views, including a claim that he wants to see a violent clash between moderate and extremist Muslims. "For the record," Pipes responds, "We hope that moderate Muslims will challenge Islamists in the realm of ideas, not by starting a religious war or engaging in violence."
"Abou El Fadl simply made up a story to suit his narrative," Stilwell and Golub wrote. "One wonders if El Fadl teaches his law students that lying about one's political opponents is acceptable professional behavior."