The University of Tennessee-Knoxville will host a speaker this evening who will talk about Islamophobia and social justice.
Amer F. Ahmed’s presentation is called “Addressing Islamophobia: Dispelling Myths to Break Down Barriers” and is part of the university’s celebration of International Education Week.
The school website says that Ahmed “skillfully interweaves social justice, diversity and inclusion, and intercultural frameworks to cultivate rich and meaningful dialogue with his audiences.”
“This program will benefit participants interested in learning more about Islam and Islamophobia, providing needed context to bridge divides,” the website says.
Born in Ohio to Indian Muslim immigrants, Ahmed is “an intercultural diversity consultant, college administrator, facilitator, poet and Hip Hop activist,” according to his website. He has held positions at Loras College in Iowa, Concordia College in Minnesota, the University of Michigan and Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He is currently director of intercultural teaching and faculty development at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The growing emphasis on Islamophobia in recent years has been criticized by conservatives as an effort to downplay and distort the differences between Islam and other belief systems and for becoming a factor behind people being afraid to report potential terrorist activity despite “see something, say something” campaigns.
Two years ago, Ahmed wrote an article slamming TV host Bill Maher for his criticisms of Islam. Ahmed wrote:
Last year, Bill Maher and Ben Affleck had a major argument about Islam and Muslims on HBO’s Real Time unveiling that Islamophobia is not exclusive to conservatives or liberals. Although the American political right, its outpost at Fox News, and the Republican Party have made their antipathy to Islam and Muslims overtly known; liberals also carry more muted fears and anxiety as well. Bill Maher consistently exposes his intolerance including his recent statement to Fareed Zakaria stating, “Let’s not pretend the things that ISIS believes are not things that many millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of Muslims believe around the world.” The perpetuation of such false narratives are consistent with messages that I have observed in the American political left on college campuses, by politicians and in media.
Ahmed went on to characterize most past Islamic civilizations as “relatively progressive, pluralistic and inclusive societies (respectful of religious and ethnic minorities) that were perceived by the West and the Church as a threat to European domination.”
“If anything, the main source of violence, intolerance and inhumanity in the world came from Christian civilizations (Crusades, Atlantic Slave Trade, anti-Semitism, etc.),” Ahmed wrote.