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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

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Jun 11, 2018

The term “Islamophobia” may be fairly new, but irrational fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims is anything but. Lending us perspective through his unique lens as a critical race theorist and law professor, Khaled A. Beydoun joined us to discuss the ways in which law, policy, and official state rhetoric have fueled the frightening resurgence of Islamophobia in the United States. With wisdom from his book American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear, Beydoun took us through history from the plight of enslaved African Muslims in the antebellum South, to the laws prohibiting Muslim immigrants from becoming citizens, to the ways the war on terror assigns blame for any terrorist act to Islam and the myriad trials Muslim Americans face in the Trump era.

He passionately argued that by failing to frame Islamophobia as a system of bigotry endorsed and emboldened by law and carried out by government actors, U.S. society ignores the injury it inflicts on both Muslims and non-Muslims. Through the stories of Muslim Americans who have experienced Islamophobia across various racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines, Beydoun shared how U.S. laws shatter lives, whether directly or inadvertently. And with an eye toward benefiting society as a whole, he recommended ways for Muslim Americans and their allies to build coalitions with other groups. Sit in with Beydoun for a robust and genuine portrait of Muslim America then and now, and an incisive look into the basis of fear and bigotry.

Khaled A. Beydoun is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and Senior Affiliated Faculty at the University of California–Berkeley Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project. A critical race theorist, he examines Islamophobia, the war on terror, and the salience of race and racism in American law. His scholarship has appeared in top law journals, including the California Law Review, Columbia Law Review, and Harvard Civil Rights–Civil Liberties Law Review. In addition, he is an active public intellectual and advocate whose commentary has been featured in the New York Times and Washington Post as well as on the BBC, Al Jazeera English, ESPN, and more. He was named the 2017 American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Advocate of the Year and the Arab American Association of New York’s 2017 Community Champion of the Year.

Recorded live at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute on Monday, June 4, 2018.