UC Berkeley students enrolled in an Asian American Studies course called “Islamophobia & Constructing Otherness” are required to create Twitter accounts and Tweet about Islamophobia, author and Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah reports.
Islamophobia is defined as a hatred or fear of Islam or Muslims.
“Two weeks ago, I received a panicked message from a student enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley,” Fatah explains. “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.'”
Fatah asked the student to elaborate, and the undergrad went on to explain that the professor wants the class to survey “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,” the student told Fatah.
According to the UC Berkeley website, the class is taught by Professor Hatem Bazian and closely examines the “frameworks employed in discourses of ‘otherness’ and the complex social, political, gender, and religious forces entangled in its historical and modern reproduction.”
Fatah, author of the books “Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State” and “The Jew is Not My Enemy,” reached out to Bazian for comment.
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.”
Examples of some of the tweets from the class include: “How difficult it is to be a Muslim woman in America” and “One perspective of Islam is to view it as inferior to the West. Where does this notion of cultural superiority come from?”
Fatah concluded his column by saying he believes “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.”