Columbia president condemns terrorism 'full stop' after video surfaces of her calling it 'form of protesting'

As Columbia University President Dr. Nemat “Minouche” Shafik faces scrutiny from ongoing campus protests over Israel’s war with Hamas, a more than 20-year-old video is getting renewed attention for remarks on the causes of terrorism.

The video, filmed just two months after 9/11, shows Shafik – who was then vice president at the World Bank – discussing the economic roots of terrorism with UC Berkeley’s Harry Kreisler on the program, “Conversations with History.”

Shafik argued that although terrorism has sprung up in “fairly rich and open societies,” its most fertile ground is in countries beset by “economic stagnation and political authoritarianism.”

Columbia University President Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on “Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University’s Response to Antisemitism” on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024.  (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

“You’ll always have individuals with extreme views. But what’s really troubling in the region is that there’s actually quite a broad base of society which has some sympathy for the terrorists, not so much because they approve of their methods, but it’s a form of protesting against a system which is not delivering for them on the economic or the political front,” she said.

The video was first unearthed by The Daily Wire’s Brent Scher.

A university spokesperson told Fox News Digital that Shafik “condemns terrorism, full stop.”

“To intimate otherwise is dangerous and a complete misrepresentation of what she said,” the spokesperson added.


Shafik has increasingly faced calls to step down amid the spread of antisemitism on campus as well as ongoing protests against Israel that have disrupted classes.

Last week, more than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who had camped out on Columbia’s green were arrested.

Earlier Monday, Shafik said in a statement that she was “deeply saddened” by certain actions of agitators, who have formed an “encampment” on the campus and have riled up students and faculty with anti-Jewish slogans and chants.

(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc)

“I am deeply saddened by what is happening on our campus,” Shafik wrote. “Our bonds as a community have been severely tested in ways that will take a great deal of time and effort to reaffirm. Students across an array of communities have conveyed fears for their safety and we have announced additional actions we are taking to address security concerns. The decibel of our disagreements has only increased in recent days.”


The protest encampment sprung up at Columbia on Wednesday, the same day that Shafik faced bruising criticism at a congressional hearing from Republicans who said she hadn’t done enough to fight antisemitism. Two other Ivy League presidents resigned months ago following widely criticized testimony they gave to the same committee.

Anti-Israel agitators gather on Columbia University’s campus in New York City on Monday, April 22, 2024.  The university announced that all classes would be held virtually today in response to the ongoing demonstrations on campus. (Peter Gerber)

Protests, meanwhile, have roiled college campuses nationwide since Hamas’ deadly attack on southern Israel, when militants killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took roughly 250 hostages. In response, Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, according to the local health ministry, which is run by Hamas and doesn’t distinguish between combatants and non-combatants but says at least two-thirds of the dead are children and women.

U.S. House Republicans from New York have urged Shafik to resign, saying in a letter Monday that she had failed to provide a safe learning environment in recent days as “anarchy has engulfed the campus.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is a Fox News Digital breaking reporter covering crime, political issues, and much more. 

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