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News from the Near Future: Yale to Award Honorary Degree to Sirhan Sirhan

April 1, 2006: Yale University has announced it will award an honorary degree to Palestinian-American activist Sirhan Bishara Sirhan.

University president Richard Levin told a press conference, "Sirhan is an outstanding representative of the Palestinian people, a true fighter for the rights of Palestinians to live peacefully in their own homeland. Tragically, he has been a political prisoner of the U.S. government for almost 40 years, simply for acting on his beliefs. While we cannot give back to Sirhan those lost decades of his life, we can give him an honorary degree, suitable for framing."

Speaking via telephone from his home at the Federal penitentiary in Corcoran, Calif., Sirhan said, "This is a great day for the Arabs, the Palestinians, and everybody who ever donated money to Yale University. Their investment is paying off, as Yale extends the ivy branch to victims of political repression such as myself and my spiritual brother Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi." The degree will be presented at Yale's graduation ceremonies in May.

Yale decided to present the degree to Sirhan following what Levin called the "tremendous excitement" surrounding the presence of former Taliban spokesman Hashemi on campus. "Let me tell you, you can't buy publicity like this," said Levin. "Everybody's talking about Yale. I can hear the alumni whipping those checkbooks out to make a big donation. Princeton will have to enroll General Pinochet's grandson to top this move."

Levin will give Sirhan a personal tour of the Yale campus, including a stop at Skull & Bones. Hashemi will join Sirhan to symbolically slit Levin's throat in a mock execution that will highlight the "celebrating our diversity" activities of graduation week at Yale. Levin commented, "I would be honored to be executed by these two fine gentlemen, even in a symbolic manner."

Asked about other events on the big day, Sirhan said, "I'm looking forward to lunch with Jodie Foster."

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