Video: Academics gone wild

updated 7/11/2006 5:19:15 PM ET 2006-07-11T21:19:15

An instructor at the University of Wisconsin who has said he believes U.S. officials orchestrated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, will be allowed to teach a course on Islam, the school says.

Some state politicians had called for the University of Wisconsin-Madison to fire part-time instructor Kevin Barrett after he spoke about his theories on a radio talk show last month.

“We cannot allow political pressure from critics of unpopular ideas to inhibit the free exchange of ideas,” Provost Patrick Farrell said in a statement Monday. “To the extent that his views are discussed, Mr. Barrett has assured me that students will be free — and encouraged — to challenge his viewpoint.”

Barrett can present his view as one of many perspectives on Sept. 11 when he teaches “Islam: Religion and Culture” this fall, Farrell said.

Farrell launched a review after Barrett said he believed the attacks were the result of a conspiracy designed to spark war in the Middle East.

Barrett said he was happy the school “did the right thing.”

“This university is a pretty professional organization that is not going to buckle from political pressure from politicians,” he said.

Politicians who had called for Barrett’s dismissal blasted the decision.

“The governor would have come to a different conclusion about this,” said Matt Canter, a spokesman for Gov. Jim Doyle.

State Rep. Steve Nass said he would push next year for cuts to the university’s budget.

The university does not endorse Barrett’s theories, Farrell said, noting they are widely believed in parts of the Muslim world.

Barrett earned a doctorate in African languages and literature and folklore from UW-Madison in 2004. He is to earn $8,247 for teaching the course.

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