Five years ago, the Sheik of Abu Dhabi, the fabulously wealthy Emirati province famous for manmade islands, Lamborghinis, and house concerts with Justin Timberlake, approached NYU president John Sexton with a deal. Seduced by millions in oil and sharia financed market money, Mr. Sexton acted against the better judgment of his peers (and other universities who had turned down similar deals with the sheik) and agreed to build a campus in Abu Dhabi. The project is now a human rights disaster.
The irony is unavoidable, as the liberal New York University is now embroiled in a worker’s rights fiasco the likes of which has rarely been seen in the US since the 19th century. Doubly ironic is that the Guggenheim Museum, that Frank-Lloyd Wright-designed crown jewel of culture in NYC, is also neck deep in worker’s rights abuses after agreeing to build in Abu Dhabi per a deal with the same sheik.
Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, and we have some serious soul searching to do.
There is no getting around the fact that dealing with sharia-controlled regions, such as the UAE, virtually guarantee abuses. No contract or law, national or international, can compete with the cultural and legal superiority of sharia-ism. And the truth of the matter is that no matter what agreements we might make the dynamic will persist. The powerful ruling classes of these nations will indulge in the playboy lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, while stepping on the necks of women, foreigners, and migrant workers.
Joy Brighton, a women’s rights activist and former Wall Street trader, is author of the new book Sharia-ism is Here – The Battle to Control Women, and Everyone Else.