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Palestinian Invite Irks Co. Gov.

September 6, 2002

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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) _ Gov. Bill Owens is criticizing plans by two Colorado colleges to host a high-profile Palestinian speaker next week.

Hanan Ashrawi, former spokeswoman for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, is scheduled to speak Sept. 12 at the private Colorado College in Colorado Springs and two days later at the public University of Colorado in Boulder.

``I think it’s outrageous to be bringing this woman who has done so much to divide the Middle East and has applauded terrorism,″ the Republican governor said Thursday on a talk radio show.

CU’s student-led cultural events board invited Ashrawi after learning she would be the keynote speaker for a Colorado College symposium called ``September 11 _ One Year Later: Responding to Global Challenges.″

CU Regent Tom Lucero objected to the visit at a board meeting Thursday but was told by lawyers that it could not be blocked.

Lucero called the visit a ``slap in the face″ in light of the United States’ ``partnership with Israel,″ especially because it is happening the week of the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Ashrawi said in a phone interview Friday that she has no intention of canceling.

``I’ve survived many things including assassination attempts and interrogations and beatings and I won’t be terrorized by people who think they have a monopoly on people’s consciousness,″ she said. ``One has to stand up for the truth.″

Organizers of both events said they will include Israeli experts but their invitations to Ashrawi still stand.

``The issue is freedom. Academic freedom. And freedom of speech,″ said Colorado College spokeswoman Lisa Ellis.

Leslie Herod, CU’s cultural events board chairwoman, said: ``Our mission ... is to educate students on issues that aren’t widely expressed through the mainstream media.″

Pat Blumenthal, Hillel Council of Colorado executive director, said the Jewish group is organizing a peace vigil to coincide with Ashrawi’s talk at CU. She encouraged people to attend the talk and ask questions.

Calls seeking comment from Ashrawi, secretary-general of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, were not immediately returned Friday.

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