A retired U.S. Army general with a history of making inflammatory remarks about Islam has canceled his plans to be the featured guest at an event at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the academy said.
Retired Lt. Gen. William Boykin’s scheduled appearance at West Point’s annual prayer breakfast on Feb. 8 triggered protests from religious groups as well as veterans’ organizations.
A statement issued by West Point’s public affairs office Monday evening said that Boykin “has decided to withdraw” and that the academy would search for a replacement.
The outcome underscores the degree of controversy that continues to follow Boykin nearly eight years after he was reprimanded by the Pentagon for violating rules while delivering speeches in uniform that often mocked followers of Islam. In one instance, Boykin, a decorated special forces officer, said he knew that his side would prevail in a fight against a prominent Islamic militant in Somalia because “I knew that my god was bigger than his.”
Boykin delivered a speech at a prayer breakfast in Ocean City, Md., this month, but coverage of the event indicated that he refrained from discussing Islam, even though he had been billed by the event’s organizer as an expert on the history of that religion.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which along with a group calling itself VoteVets.org had asked West Point to retract the invitation to Boykin, welcomed the retired Army officer’s decision.
CAIR’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said the group hopes that “the speaker who replaces him will offer cadets a spiritual message that promotes tolerance and mutual understanding.”