Julio Pino speaks out for his rights after national attention

Julio "Assad" Pino said the blog isn't the issue - it's freedom of speech.

At issue is a controversial blog that says Pino has ties to a Web site that supports al-Qaida, the Taliban and militant Palestinians.

On Tuesday, the Drudge Report, an international news Web site, posted a blog by Mike Adams, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Within the blog, Adams alleges Pino, associate professor of history at Kent State, runs the site "Global War," which calls itself "a jihadist news service."

VIDEO

Watch an interview with Stater News editor Katie Alberti concerning the controversial Web site "Global War," which professor Julio Pino is accused of running.

According to Adams' blog, he says because of Pino's decision to "'provide battle dispatches, training manuals, and jihad videos to our (enemies) worldwide' (he) deserves to be arrested and sent to an island off the coast of North America, stripped naked, interrogated, and, if necessary, tortured to ascertain the extent of his involvement in assisting our enemies."

Pino said he wouldn't acknowledge any connection with the extremist blog that has attracted national attention.

"The Web site is not the issue - freedom of speech is the issue," he said.

In his first in-depth interview on the subject, Pino said Adams went "beyond the course of civilized behavior."

"It all started because a man, or professor, from North Carolina, who knows nothing, made allegations that threaten me," Pino said.

He said he would not comment on "Global War" or his personal beliefs about the Web site.

"I have no comment," Pino said. "It is something which I feel every American holds dear: The right to say things and not say things."

Philosophy professor Norman Fischer, a friend of Pino's, said there is no reason for the media hype surrounding Adams' blog.

"This is the new McCarthyism - a revival attempt to stop political speech," Fischer said.

The blog is an issue, Fischer said, because Pino is a defender of Palestinian rights, something Americans might not agree with.

"As a citizen, I support Palestinian rights," he said. "So does Jimmy Carter and Assad Pino. We suffer the most from this new McCarthyism."

Pino, a Muslim convert, said he considers himself a "humble servant of God" and believes God wants peace.

In addition, he said the media attention has come about from his "unpopular" beliefs. But, he said it's what happens when "buzz words, such as terrorist" are used.

Yesterday morning, Kent State issued a statement emphasizing there is no connection between the university and the blog. The statement also said:

  • There is no evidence the Web site is authorized by Pino.

  • No Kent State servers or resources were used to create or maintain the site.

  • Pino has no complaints registered by students or instructors about his classroom conduct and demeanor.

  • The opinions on the Web site do not reflect those of the university.

  • Kent State and Pino have received hate mail and threats, which will be monitored by university officials.

  • As an employer, proper university processes are used to determine if a faculty member should be dismissed.

  • Kent State asked the blogs and sources to refrain from writing and distributing information associating the university with the Web site.

Pino echoed the university's statement.

"I don't speak for the university," he said. "And the university doesn't speak for me or endorse my beliefs."

Pino said he hasn't responded to interview requests from CNN, Fox and other media outlets because it's a matter of his personal beliefs.

"I don't want to be the focus of attention," he said. "If people have a personal problem, let them address me personally."

John Jameson, professor and chair of the history department, said Pino - along with the department - have received numerous threatening e-mails and telephone calls because of the blog.

"There's a concern for the faculty member Dr. Pino," he explained. "Some of the e-mails that have come into the university are threatening bodily harm. The blog itself that professor Adams has written, the last paragraph indicated he should be fired, arrested and taken to an island and stripped of his rights. This part is not getting a whole lot of coverage - that's not exactly an attitude that any sane group would care to advocate."

Jameson said Pino has been in the news before, such as in 2002 when he a wrote a Stater column praising a Palestinian suicide bomber.

But, Jameson said Pino has never had problems with his students.

"There'll be the occasional complaining student, but there doesn't seem to be any real issues here," he explained. "As far as overall effectiveness and teacher evaluations, he's a strong teacher."

Despite the attention he's received, Pino said every American should be able to state their opinions on any subject without feeling as if they'll be punished.

"I think it's important for all voices to be heard in the U.S.," he said. "Protect the rights of people and agree to disagree with me. The people who are upset are not reflecting on this issue but going with a gut reaction."

Contact news editor Katie Alberti at kalberti@kent.edu.

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