Professor slain by Saudi grad student

Dr. Richard Antoun of Binghamton University, a retired professor of anthropology with a specialty in comparative religions allegedly was stabbed four times in the chest by a Saudi  national, Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani, a cultural-anthropology grad student.

Professor Antoun was a peace activist, and a convert to Judaism, and was known on campus as "a really nice guy."

According to the
New York Times:

"He dedicated his life to trying to understand the people of the Middle East," said the professor's sister Linda Miller, of Holden, Mass. "He never said an unkind word to anyone in his life."

Ms. Miller's husband, the Rev. David J. Miller, said that Professor Antoun had been married to his wife, Rosalyn, for 17 years and had a son, Nicholas, 40.

Professor Antoun's work focused on religion and the social organization of tradition in Islamic law and ethics, among other things, according to the university's Web site. He had taught at the University of Chicago, Manchester University in England and Cairo University, according to his curriculum vitae.

New York Post:

"Student Devin Sheppard said the suspect was at the scene when cops arrived. "The police asked the grad student, 'Did you just stab him?' and he said, 'Yes.'"

The New York Times:

In his statement, Mr. Mollen said there was "no indication of religious or ethnic motivation" in the killing. He said no other arrests were expected.

That's an odd sort of thing to say, given this sample of Al-Zahrani's thinking excerpted from an email he sent in response to an article published at Tel Aviv University titled "The Arabs are the deeper failure in the history of mankind...":

"Abdulsalam Alzahrani:  

Now I have to say something to this idiot who said the Arabs are the grossest fuilure in the history of human beings. No failure equals the Israeli...your were f... up under a tolitarian rule in europe and the rule failed and you want to replicate it!!! how stupid is this? what failure is this? Einstein himself refused to join you doomed enterprience and Freud himself thought that you were theafts sealing even the moral innovatons of other people even the hummus you have stolen, the land, the water, resources of are a bunch of psychopath theaves and murdurers...everyone is against you because of your unethical immoral criminal killed children!!! what else you want to be convinced that you are shame of humanity."

I don't believe this was a dispute with a colleague over Al-Zahrani's spelling or punctuation.

Hat tip: William Katz, Urgent Agenda.

Ralph Alter blogs at Right on Target