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The campus murder of Professor Richard Antoun

By Michelle Malkin  •  December 8, 2009 10:01 AM

From the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, news of a campus murder that appears to be more than your average street crime:

Richard T. Antoun, a respected Binghamton University anthropology professor who grew up in Shrewsbury, spent his entire career seeking peace. His work focused on bridging the divide between religions and cultures, particularly in the Middle East.

But the 77-year-old professor’s life ended violently Friday when he was stabbed multiple times in his campus office, allegedly by a graduate student whom he was advising on his doctoral thesis.

The student, Abdulsalam S. al-Zahrani, 46, was from Saudi Arabia. Mr. Antoun was serving on the dissertation committee for Mr. Zahrani’s graduate thesis and apparently had known him for quite some time, according to news reports. The university’s Web site says Mr. Zahrani’s doctoral thesis is called “Sacred Voice, Profane Sight: The Senses, Cosmology, and Epistemology in Early Arabic Culture.”

Mr. Zahrani was immediately arrested and charged with second-degree murder and is being held without bail. The motive for the attack is unclear.

Candace de Russy notes:

The two apartment-mates of Abdulsalam Al-Zahrani, the Saudi national and doctoral student charged with stabbing to death Richard Antoun, a Binghamton University professor emeritus, said the suspect was (as Press Connects reports) “confrontational, argumentative and ‘acted like a terrorist.'”

Al-Zahrani is a graduate student in cultural anthropology, while Antoun, an expert on comparative religion, is described as a “gentle man dedicated to dispelling stereotypes about different cultures.”

Souleyman Sukho, a Senegalese doctoral student at BU who was one of Al-Zahrani’s apartment-mates, stated he “‘came at me with a knife . . . asked me if I was afraid of dying . . . behaved like a terrorist . . . . would open his door and would be screaming on the phone . . . [and] claimed he was persecuted.'”

The other apartment-mate, Luis Pena, a master’s-degree student at BU, related that Al-Zahrani would abruptly exclaim “I just feel like destroying the world” and would “make weird remarks.”

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