Judge Says Man in Egypt Can Be Compelled to U.S. to Testify
A former official at the New York Institute of Technology's Bahrain branch now living in Egypt can be compelled to the United States to testify in a federal lawsuit in Suffolk County, a magistrate judge has ruled. The suit was brought by a former NYIT instructor who claims he was forced out of his job by the official after others made false accusations that the instructor posted an anti-Muslim cartoon on a class website.
The instructor, Dennis Balk, claims that the official, Mohammed Hussein, made the decision to oust him and compelled him to leave the country.
Eastern District Magistrate Judge Kathleen Tomlinson (See Profile) ruled on Sept. 30 in Balk v. NYIT, 2:11-cv-00509, that Hussein's testimony is essential to the case and cannot be admitted in any way other than his deposition.
Balk began teaching in the computer graphics unit at NYIT's Bahrain branch in 2006.
According to Balk, his troubles began when two Muslim students complained to NYIT officials that he explained Western values to them in a way that they found offensive to Muslims. Balk said he had been having a conversation with the students about different social norms surrounding religion in Bahrain and New York, where the students were planning a trip.
In March 2008, Al-Ayam, a daily newspaper in Bahrain, published an article claiming that an unnamed NYIT instructor had posted a well-known, controversial cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed to a class website.
Balk claims that by then, word of the complaints against him had spread, and NYIT employees and officials knew that the article referred to him, and also knew that he had not actually posted the cartoon.
Balk claims that InfoTec Corp., a third-party contractor that hired people for NYIT's Bahraini branch, effectively planted the false report.
InfoTec, based in Cyprus, provides administrative support services to American students in the Middle East.
Balk alleges in his complaint that NYIT and InfoTec "routinely effect illegal discriminatory acts when a Western, non-Muslim faculty member is falsely accused of violating any norms, mores or values not acceptable to its Muslim clientele by discrediting and terminating the Western faculty member and forcing the Western faculty member to leave the country for fear of personal safety."