New York was recently the scene of a heated debate on the status of Muslim women under Islamic law. In it, one of the bravest women in the world, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, faced off against three other Muslim women and a hostile moderator, Barkha Dutt.
Dutt, known for her soft spot for Muslims in her own country of India, identified so much with the three Muslims attacking Hirsi Ali the New York Times mistakenly described her as a Muslim, reporting four powerful Muslim women had faced off against Hirsi Ali. (The paper later issued a correction).
The debate, hosted by the group “Women in the World,’ started with Dutt telling the packed audience that in her opinion all religions were misogynist and thus it was unfair to focus only on Islam.
The debate opened with the moderator telling the audience all religions are misogynist.
To reinforce her argument, Dutt equated the actions of Islamic fundamentalists to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, saying: “What he (Donald Trump) said about women, according to me, is so much worse, so much worse than the Muslim fundamentalists he seeks to keep out of the United States of America.”
Then, turning her guns on Hirsi Ali, Dutt asked: “There are so many misogynists and they belong to so many different religions, why are you picking only on Islam?”
Hirsi Ali immediately recognized she was being set up to run a gauntlet of criticism and so chose to go for the jugular.
I reject Islamic law because it’s totalitarian … because it’s bigoted and especially bigoted against women… Where Islamic law becomes the law of the land … women will need a male guardian, child marriage is reintroduced, you will be disinherited. If you are raped it’s your fault, and you will get stoned to death … I reject Islamic law because it’s inherently hostile to women. It is so bigoted.
To applause from the audience, Hirsi Ali concluded: “We will not defeat and we will not eradicate these practices, unless we talk about the principle, and the principle is enshrined in the Islamic law, unreformed.”
Dutt would not relent. She pushed Hirsi Ali further by suggesting that in her own country of India, Hindu women were as excluded as Muslim women from places of worship.
The response of a stern and visibly frustrated Hirsi Ali again drew applause from the audience. “We have 30 minutes to talk about women in Islam … can we please, for just these 30 minutes, focus on the topic,” she said.
In a bid to refute Hirsi Ali, Zahra Langhi, co-founder and director of the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace, argued: “There’s no such thing as Islamic law – there’s something called sharia. It’s the dynamic process – it has to be contextualized.” (Dynamic? That’s a word not even Islamists would associate with sharia.)
One of the most heated moments occurred when Hirsi Ali brought up the issue of child marriage, giving the example of Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha, who Islamic scholars insist was only six at marriage, while the marriage was consummated when she was only nine. “That is Islamic law,” Hirsi Ali asserted. That angered another panelist, leading to a later shouting match between the two that continued off stage after the event ended.
It seems conflicts within Islam that began 1,400 years ago on the deathbed of Prophet Muhammad are going to be with us for as long as we Muslims remain oblivious to our surroundings.
Apologies to the rest of you.
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at theToronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
by Abigail R. Esman Special to IPT News
August 27, 2015
Thirteen years, thirteen honor killings, all in Muslim families, all of them in Canada. But if you should condemn those murders, you might find yourself the subject of investigation and convicted of a crime.
Quebec Human Rights Commissioner Jacques Frémont has proposed a bill “to prevent and combat hate speech and speech inciting violence.”
If adopted, the law known as Bill 59 would allow Quebec’s Human Rights Commission or members of the public “to initiate a ‘hate speech’ lawsuit against a person who makes a statement considered discriminatory against a group,” Marc Lebuis, director of Point de Bascule, an organization that tracks Islamist activities in Canada, said in a recent interview.
In addition, the bill would grant the commission power to investigate people alleged to have uttered hate speech, said Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée. Those convicted of promoting hate could be fined up to $20,000 and their names would be made public and posted indefinitely to a list available online.
Most view Bill 59 as a response to pressure from Muslim groups, who have filed several complaints of “Islamophobia” and anti-Muslim hate speech in recent years. In many ways, the bill resembles UN Resolution 16/18, an initiative of the 56 Islamic States who comprise the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and which restricts speech that could be considered “discriminatory” or which defames religion and can be considered “incitement to violence.” Only Bill 59 is worse: it pertains to personal, subjective, emotional responses that an individual has to something that he reads, hears, or encounters.
That this proposed statute flies in the face of everything we in the United States as well as in Canada believe to be fundamental to human and civil rights and the sanctity of free speech is not the only challenge the proposed bill presents. But it presents its greatest threat to democracy and the values the West holds sacred.
Ironically, Lebuis says, supporters justify the bill by suggesting it will protect democracy against terrorism. They reason that “terrorism is a reaction towards people who criticize their religion,” he explains, “so by banning the criticism of Islam, we would end terrorism.” Such arguments have been made both by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and by Muslim groups such as the Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec (AMAL). “Hate and Islamophobia drive certain people in groups subject to discrimination toward another form of extremism and violence,” said AMAL President Haroun Bouazzi in a recent presentation to the National Assembly during a debate over the bill.
But Canada’s federal criminal code already calls for imprisonment (up to two years) for “anyone who incites hatred against any identifiable group,” as the Montreal Gazettepoints out. Though the proposed bill addresses hate speech against individuals, not groups, it fails even to define what “hate speech” is. As attorney Julius Grey testified, “Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Voltaire could all be found to have incited violence and hatred. Should they have been censored?”
Moreover, because there is no clear definition of “hate speech” and no standard by which it can be measured, the bill leaves the door wide open for prosecution. “It is based on what people feel or could feel,” Lebuis said. “Public interest, the truth, facts or even intentions are no defense.”
That situation is made worse by the fact that conviction is based on the determination of the Human Rights Commission tribunal, overriding federal laws which require a determination of guilt “beyond reasonable doubt.” As columnist Don MacPhersonobserves in the Montreal Gazette:
“The federal Criminal Code defines ‘hate propaganda‘ as advocating or promoting genocide, inciting hatred against an identifiable group [that is] likely to lead to a breach of the peace,’ or ‘willfully’ promoting hatred against such a group … And an accused can’t be convicted ‘if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true” (as would be the case, say, with any condemnation of an honor killing).
But Bill 59 makes no such provisions.
Others, including (surprisingly) AMAL’s Bouazzi, have objected to the proposed creation of a permanent, public record of those found guilty of “hate speech” – a gesture that is not only defamatory but could even become dangerous should anyone seek retribution. Further, “hate speech” is not defined in the bill, so such a conviction has Machiavellian potential: For example, were you, to ascribe honor violence or terrorism to cultural or religious beliefs, you could be subject to prosecution. This would be the case even if the actual perpetrator claimed to act in the name of culture or religion. And while a terrorist will go to prison for his deeds, should you be found guilty of violating Bill 59, your name, not his, will be indelibly included on that list visible to the world.
As such, the potential for political parties to silence – let alone criminalize – those who oppose them lurks ominously within the reaches of such a law.
Among Muslims, according to Pakistani-Canadian activist Tarek Fatah, opinions seem to be split. “Ironically, some Islamist-promoting organizations and mosques have welcomed Bill 59, notwithstanding the fact they violate it every week when they start their Friday prayers with a ritual invocation that asks, ‘Allah to give Muslims victory over the “kufaar”(Christians, Jews and Hindus),'” he writes in the Toronto Sun. Others like himself, he says, “everything we can to make sure Quebec’s Bill 59 does not pass.” And if it does pass, he adds, “the first complaint to the QHRC will be against Islamist mosques for spreading hatred against Jews and Christians.
That is a promise.”
Judging from past efforts to legislate such issues in Canada and from the apparent opposition to Bill 59 being voiced in editorials around the country, the measure seems to have little chance of passing. A measure to legalize sharia tribunals, for instance, failed in 2005, though ironically, these tribunals – opposed vehemently by Muslim women, who recognized that such tribunals tend to discriminate against women in cases of marriage, forced marriage, domestic abuse and inheritance – were denounced by many as “Islamophobic.” (One has to wonder what the Quebec HRC tribunal would have to say about that issue: Islamophobia or misogyny? And what of the person accused of “Islamophobia” who in turn declares the term “Islamophobic” offensive and presses charges against his accuser?)
Pierre Trudel, a lawyer and professor of law at the University of Montreal, also feels that the bill in its current form stands limited chance of succeeding. But, he added in an interview, “it’s fair to expect that it will be amended to answer the objections of many opponents.” Otherwise, he said, the result will be “a significant chilling effect on speech.”
Ironic, then, that nothing else could better hand a victory to those very terrorists the bill was written to subvert. In the words of Benjamin Franklin (as Silence Dogood), “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
Official flags at government buildings in the United Kingdom have been lowered to half-mast as per a request put out by the office of the Queen as a sign of respect for the late King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah.
A formal request to lower the flags was put out by officials in the office of the Queen. Officials from the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport sent out the request to other government departments and told reporters that the request had come from the Queen’s palace. It was described as “a matter of protocol.”
The Scottish parliament refused to lower flags, stating “We offer the people of Saudi Arabia our condolences following the passing of King Abdullah.” The spokesman added “Flags are not routinely flown at half-mast from Scottish government buildings to mark the deaths of foreign heads of government or state.”
The flag is flying at half-mast at Westminster Abbey, the most important church in the UK (along with Canterbury Cathedral) and at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence in London.
Rather than a “patient and skillful moderniser of his country” as Tony Blair described him, King Abdullah was a staunch conservative who’s advisory council (solely appointed by him) refused a petition of women to end (among other things) male guardianship under which women are forbidden from travelling, doing business, marrying, divorcing, opening a bank account – even undergoing certain medical procedures – without the permission of their male guardian.
Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said that King Abdullah was a strong advocate for women “in a very discrete way.” The reality was quite different. Along with refusing women the right to drive, the king also kept four of his own daughter imprisoned in a royal compound for 13 years.
US President Barack Obama praised the king for having “the courage of his convictions” while previous President George W. Bush called him “a man I admire and was honored to work with” adding that he had “very fond memories of my visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” During his visit to Saudi Arabia, the former President would not have been able to visit Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, as non-Muslims are banned from entering.
These comments by world leaders are surprising in the light of Abdullah’s policies. King Abdullah has imprisoned hundreds of civil dissidents and oversaw the beheading of at least 79 people in 2013 alone, leading The Independent to ask “Who Beheads More People, ISIS or Saudi Arabia?” Two weeks ago the Saudi government gaveRaif Badawi the first 50 out of 1,000 lashes in spite of international pleas for clemency and an offer by leading religious freedom activists to take the lashes in Raif’s place.
by Jeffrey M. Bale Special to IPT News
October 10, 2014
Note: This analysis has been excerpted, with the approval of the author, from a much longer scholarly article that will be published in an academic journal.
“Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgement that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas – jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy – reliably lead to oppression and murder?”
As is invariably the case these days in the wake of the terrorist violence, brutality, and atrocities carried out explicitly in the name of Islam, a host of dissimulating Islamist activists, other Muslims in a state of psychological denial, and apologetic Western pundits insist that the actions of the terrorist group calling itself al-Dawla al-Islamiyya (IS: the Islamic State) have little or nothing to do with Islam.
Not long ago, many such commentators also argued that the horrendous actions committed by the Nigerian jihadist group Jama’at Ahl al-Sunna li al-Da’wa wa al-Jihad, better known as Boko Haram (Western Influence is Sinful), had nothing to do with its members’ interpretations of Islam.
In all such cases, however, the perpetrators of these violent actions not only proudly insist that their actions are inspired by the Qur’an and the exemplary words and deeds of Muhammad himself (as recorded in the canonical hadith collections), but explicitly cite relevant Qur’anic passages and the reported actions of their prophet to justify those actions. Therefore, to argue that jihadist terrorists are not directly inspired and primarily motivated by their interpretations of Islamic doctrines and by clear precedents from early Islamic history, one must stubbornly ignore what the actual protagonists keep telling the entire world.
But why ignore the claims of the perpetrators and instead rely on Islamist activists, who are often peddling outright disinformation, or on Western commentators, most of whom know little or nothing about Islam or Islamism, for explanations of this behavior? These pundits are prone to minimize the central role played by Islamist ideology and erroneously ascribe the actions of jihadist terrorists to assorted subsidiary causal factors, such as garden-variety political grievances, poverty, lack of democracy, psychopathology, greed, or simple hunger for power.
Needless to say, most of the commentators who keep insisting, against all evidence to the contrary, that the actions of jihadist terrorists cannot be attributed to their interpretations of Islam do not also argue that the violent actions of other types of extremists cannot be attributed to their ideological beliefs. On the contrary, whenever other types of terrorists carry out gruesome attacks, many of those same commentators are quick to ascribe their actions primarily to their proclaimed theological and ideological beliefs – and justifiably so.
One can easily illustrate this glaring contrast with respect to the analytical treatment of Islamist terrorism by asking a simple question: when was the last time that any more or less respected commentator made the case that Nazi ideology had nothing to do with inspiring particular acts of terrorism committed by self-identified neo-Nazis, or that notions of white supremacy had nothing to do with anti-minority violence committed by members of the Ku Klux Klan? Thus it is virtually only in cases of acts of terrorism committed by jihadists that one encounters so much unwillingness to face reality and so much frantic desperation to absolve Islam itself – or even Islamist interpretations of Islam – from shouldering any responsibility for inspiring acts committed in its name.
Some academicians mistakenly minimize the role of ideology as a key factor in inspiring the violence and terrorism carried out by non-state extremist groups, not just in the case of jihadist terrorism but also in other such cases. These efforts are seriously misleading, since they tend to be based on flawed social science theories that overemphasize the role of “rational choice,” materialistic rather than idealistic motives, personal psychological factors, “really existing” political and economic grievances, or larger impersonal structural forces as causal factors in the etiology of terrorism. However, they at least have the merit of not employing double standards, i.e., of making an unwarranted and wholly artificial distinction between the causes of Islamist terrorism and other types of ideologically-inspired terrorism. Indeed, although some have specifically applied such problematic notions in the context of Islamist terrorism, there is no reason to suppose that they regard ideology as being any more important in other terrorism contexts.
But the most egregious nonsense about the Islamic State is currently being peddled by ideologues, spokesmen, and activists from Islamist organizations, both in the Muslim world and in the West. Leading Saudi clerics, Saudi-sponsored and Saudi-funded international Islamic organizations like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and numerous Islamist groups and networks linked to the Muslim Brotherhood are now belatedly hastening to denounce the IS and to falsely claim that it has “nothing to do with Islam” or that its appalling actions are “un-Islamic” or even “anti-Islamic.”
Unfortunately, many naïve or agenda-driven Western journalists cite these deceptive statements by Islamists in an effort to challenge conservative Western media claims that not enough Muslims are speaking out against the IS. Indeed, those journalists tend to highlight such statements to give the impression that lots of supposedly moderate Muslims are publicly opposing the IS, either without actually knowing or without bothering to mention that most of the people and organizations that are making such statements are in fact Islamists who are trying to whitewash Islam and their own brands of Islamism, burnish their own tarnished images and thereby protect themselves, and/or mislead gullible “infidels” in the media.
Most of these commentators repeat the same one-sided mantras that have been endlessly repeated since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, e.g., that “Islam is a religion of peace” or that “Islam does not sanction terrorism and beheadings,” usually without providing any actual textual or historical evidence in support of their claims. This is all the more peculiar, since if the jihadists affiliated with the IS were in fact egregiously misinterpreting Islam, it should be very easy indeed for their critics to point this out by referring to Islam’s sacred scriptures and the reported words and deeds of Muhammad to explicitly repudiate barbarous IS actions such as the wholesale massacre or torture of captives, the confiscation of their land and wealth, the enslavement (sexual and otherwise) of their women, the gruesome public beheadings and stonings of designated enemies and “sinners” in order to terrorize others and perhaps also to precipitate the arrival of the Mahdi and the onset of the “end times,” the wanton destruction of places of worship and historical monuments, and the list goes on and on.
Yet they generally fail to do this. On those rare occasions when they try to demonstrate that these kinds of activities are “un-Islamic,” usually by citing a handful of Qur’anic passages out of context or by noting a few recorded examples of Muhammad’s compassion, their arguments are weak and unconvincing, if not preposterous. The jihadists themselves and certain hardline pro-jihadist clerics have thus far seemingly had little trouble rebutting their Muslim critics’ often specious arguments.
An illustrative example of such Islamist sophistry is provided by Nihad ‘Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a key component of the Muslim Brotherhood network in the U.S.
In an opinion piece entitled “ISIS is Not Just Un-Islamic, It is Anti-Islamic,” ‘Awad describes ISIS as a “criminal gang” that “falsely…claims to uphold the banner of Islam.” In support of his claim, ‘Awad attempts to redefine the term jihad in such a way that it cannot be associated with offensive warfare.
Dr. Jeffrey M. Bale is an Associate Professor in the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), where his focus is on the study of political and religious extremism and terrorism. He obtained his B.A. in Middle Eastern and Islamic history at the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. in modern European history at the University of California at Berkeley.
by Andrew E. Harrod Special to IPT News
May 9, 2014
A coalition of American Muslim leaders came together at a press conference Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to condemn Boko Haram‘s (BH) April 14 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls. Yet the participants’ deficient frankness about Islamic doctrine made their denunciations ring hollow.
“Islam is not the problem,” insisted Ahmed Bedier, a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Tampa chapter founder. “No one is buying their story,” Bedier argued with respect to Islamic claims of BH. He dismissed them as “just another con” whose “ideology comes from nowhere” in a country known for scams.
Bedier’s assessment might surprise BH’s leader, Abubakar Shekau. Known as “Darul Tawheed,” an expert in monotheism, Shekau studied under a cleric and then at Borno State College of Legal and Islamic Studies. A profile also describes Shekau’s predecessor, deceased BH founder Mohammed Yusuf, as a “charismatic, well-educated cleric who drove a Mercedes as part of his push for a pure Islamic state in Nigeria.”
“We didn’t ask if Christianity is the problem” with respect to Uganda’s brutal Lord’s Resistance Army, Bedier analogized. Yet human rights abuses in Islam’s name, especially against women and girls, extend beyond Nigeria. Survey results report the “Arab Spring” had a detrimental impact on women, including the reemergence of child marriage in Syria. Women’s rights are also a concern in both European Islamic immigrant communities and in Brunei after its recent introduction of sharia law, including stoning for adulterous women.
“We need to unite across all faith lines,” Bray said, with ecumenical concern for the kidnapping victims, “until all our girls are brought home.”
Bedier and others considered BH violence symptomatic of Nigerian social ills like poverty. Martin Luther King, a “drum major for justice,” likewise came to Bray’s mind during an interview. King was “standing up for the poor and the oppressed” with jobs and education. Nigerian government response to the kidnappings, meanwhile, reminded Bedier of American “outrage” following official American handling of Hurricane Katrina.
Other areas of the world, meanwhile, suffer from poverty, such as Haiti, still rebuildingfrom the 2010 earthquake which killed at least 250,000 people and displaced another 1.5 million. Yet somehow these countries do not devolve into misogynist paradises for “vicious cults.”
The presenters rejected any questions about Islam’s treatment of women as beyond the event’s purview, even though Boko Haram announced plans condemned by the speakers to force its captives into sexual relationships or even “marriages.” BH’s actions paralleled Islamic doctrine justifying child marriage that had blocked in Nigeria’s Muslim-majority northern states from implementing legislation for an 18-year-old age of consent for marriage. By contrast, Nigeria’s Christian-majority southern states passed such legislation.
Although Bedier called for Americans to “use our resources for something that is positive,” he offered few specifics. He advocated drone use in Nigeria “for surveillance,” not combat. Noting that BH sometimes outgunned government forces, Bray suggested that America aid Nigeria with intelligence and the FBI’s hostage rescue team along with the United Nations.
He noted that BH, as a “takfiri” group with a “medieval, feudal perspective,” also targets Muslim opponents as apostates. He had no interest, however, in the “mission creep” of questions concerning traditional Islamic death penalties for apostasy/blasphemy recurring in the modern world.
Speakers at Thursday’s news conference hardly reassured that they would adequately address the Islamic dangers posed in Nigeria by movements like BH. Not for nothing does BH’s “formal Arabic name” mean Jam’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-da’wa wal-Jihad, or “The Fellowship of the People of the Tradition for Preaching and Holy War,” Islam apostate and critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali observes.
As the Canadian Muslim reformer Tarek Fatah notes, wartime sex slavery does find sanction in Islamic sources, highlighting the need for open discussion of Islam’s various controversies. “We either develop the maturity to say, such Islamic injunctions do not apply anymore,” Fatah writes, “or we can keep on driving fast-forward in reverse gear…every time we hit an obstacle that appears in our blind spot, we can blame it on ‘Islamophobia.'”
Those at Thursday’s news conference chose the latter.
“There is a time when silence is betrayal,” Bray quoted King, a comment applicable to the press conference itself.
In the wake of a decision by Britain to accept the rulings ofIslamic sharia law in matters of inheritance, Arutz Sheva spoke with Ari Soffer, the Managing Editor of Arutz Sheva English and a former resident of London who is familiar with the on-the-ground political situation in the United Kingdom.
According to Soffer, not all British Muslims support the “creeping Islamization” that the UK has been undergoing, in which Islamic law takes its place among the laws of the land. That process is being pushed by Muslim organizations in Britain, but a large number of Muslims in the country would prefer to keep such laws as a private matter between themselves.
UK law already has provisions for the implementation of Sharia law on an individual basis, with decisions handed down by Islamic courts enforced in the country’s courts. Thus, the only purpose for the legislation, he said, was for Islamist radicals to promote their agenda of installing Islamic law in the daily life of Britons.
Soffer added that the British government has only itself to blame for the situation. It was the government that promoted the idea of a “dialog” with what turned out to be a set of radical groups, convinced they were a positive alternative to Al Qaeda. There was a need to create such a dialog in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it was felt.
The groups encouraged the government to see them as an “Islamic alternative” to Al Qaeda, even though theologically they had much in common. “This was the main reason the governments of Europe enhanced the status of these groups, and now their agenda is clear,” he said. However, he added, most Britons were puzzled at what to do about the situation. “They do not to deal with the new reality because they don’t know how to,” he added.
In 2002, when Prof. Daniel Pipes launched his “Campus Watch” initiative to monitor “the mixing of politics with scholarship” on American universities with regard to the Mideast, he was condemned as engaging in “McCarthyesque” intimidation.
His initiative was derided as a “war on academic freedom.” One Islamist group labelled Pipes the “grandfather of Islamophobes”.
However, 12 years after Pipes first raised the flag of Islamist penetration of U.S. universities, it appears that Pipes, a scholar of Islam with a dozen books to his credit, was right to be concerned.
Two weeks ago, I received a panicked message from a student enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley.
He wrote: “I’ve been told by one of my professors I will be required, as part of my grade, to start a Twitter account and tweet weekly on Islamophobia. I can’t help but feel this is unethical. This is his agenda not mine.”
The professor conducting this exercise was Hatem Bazian as part of a course titled, “Asian American Studies 132AC: Islamophobia”.
When I asked him to elaborate on his concerns the student wrote:
“There are 100 students in the class, all of us forced to create individual Twitter accounts. I’m not wholly clear on what our final project is yet (I find it very interesting that he excludes both the Twitter account requirement AND the final project from his official syllabus), but we have to meet with a group in San Francisco, and our class will be surveying people of color on the impact of some ads put out by (anti-Sharia blogger) Pamela Gellar. Now I’m no Pamela Gellar fan, I think she’s nuts, but I feel … between the Twitter stuff and the final project he’s basically using us as unpaid labor to work on his agenda.”
I wrote to Prof. Bazian, who co-founded “Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)” at Berkeley, asking why he was using his students to pursue what appeared to me to be a political exercise meant to propagate a specific message to the Twitterverse.
Bazian replied, without referring to Islamophobia:
“My course is designated as an American culture community engagement scholarship class … Students are asked to send at least one posting per week on something related to the course content, be it from the actual reading or anything they read or came across.”
When I asked him why all the tweets by his students so far are about Islamophobia, he replied:
“The class is titled De-Constructing Islamophobia and the History of Otherness … (Students) are asked to post based on … examining Islamophobia through looking at earlier historical examples.”
The fact remains Prof. Bazian appears to be using his position of authority to make 100 students — mostly non-Muslims — tweet about Muslim victimhood in America, irrespective of how it’s defined or whether it exists.