April 17, 2006

Aljazeera Hosts San Francisco Arab Americans

The Aljazeera show "Open Dialogue" featured a lively discussion among Arab American students in San Francisco on a variety of issues including civil rights, Middle East politics, cultural barriers, and identity, among others. UC Berkley Professor Hatem Bazian was one of the main participants. The students at SFSU discussed their various activities, the most recent of which is a mural dedicated to the late Edward Said. Will Youmans at KABOBfest wrote about this for the Arab American News.

The show was repeated on Aljazeera today (Monday) at 3:05 am KSA time and 10:05 am EST in the US. I didn't realize that their reruns are so close to each other, but they should have the transcript up soon on their website in Arabic.

In any case, Dr. Bazian spoke about the pressure faced by professors teaching Middle Eastern politics or history. He said he knew of students in his classroom who attended just so they could write down what he says, essentially spying on him, and transmitting that information to other private organizations. These include the infamous Campus Watch network which was founded by known Islamophobe Daniel Pipes as well as the likes of David Horowitz who recently authored a book entitled "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America." Both the organization and the book are essentially a witch hunt against any academic that dares to provide a human side of the Middle East, more specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They want to "black list" these professors, ruin their reputation, and eventually remove them from their positions in some of the most prestigious universities in America. Taking their statements out of context, these Islamophobic pop stars are attempting to muffle dialogue at the most important institutions of our time: universities. Dr. Bazian openly discusses this intimidation and the students also provide their own accounts of such abuse.

I will wait to see if this episode is translated to English, and will link it here if so. Otherwise, I might translate some of the most important excerpts of the discussion. If anyone has seen the show, what are your thoughts?

UPDATE: The transcript of the show in Arabic can be found here on Aljazeera's website.

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