The Ohio State University’s Middle East Studies Center in partnership with the Multicultural Center is set to host author Nathan Lean to discuss the “pernicious phenomenon” of Islamophobia.
The event, slated for Monday, comes roughly three months after a Somali refugee student plowed a car into a crowd of Ohio State students before stabbing several of them with a butcher knife. In the past, that student had praised an al-Qaeda leader as a “hero” and criticized America for interfering in the Middle East.
Lean, author of “The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims,” is a researcher focused on Islam, Islamophobia, the Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, and other issues, his website states.
“The fear that the Islamophobia Industry has manufactured is so fierce in its grip on some populations that it drives them to do the unthinkable,” states Lean’s book summary on Amazon.
During his discussion at Ohio State he seeks to evaluate Islamophobia’s “causes, consequences, and highlight some of the underlying dynamics that have animated it in recent history,” OSU’s website states.
He will also offer “key insights on how students, scholars, and members of community at large can counter instances of prejudice and help realize a world that values pluralism and diversity,” it adds.
The webpage for the event also notes that “prejudice towards and discrimination of Muslims has reached a fevered pitch. Beyond blatant physical attacks or acts of vandalism, polls show that negative sentiment towards the followers of Islam runs deep, and has manifested itself in a range of ways.”
His talk will delve into this “pernicious phenomenon,” the site states.
Meanwhile, at least one student at Ohio State wonders where the counter-side to this discussion is.
When a third year finance major at Ohio State was asked if he has witnessed any prejudice or discrimination against Muslims on campus, he told The College Fix “no, none at all.”
He asked to not be identified as he feared potential retaliation from the OSU administration.
“I will spout off about any other topic, but OSU has made it clear that this topic is untouchable,” he told The Fix. “I feel as a student at a public institution that I am being silenced. If I am a free thinker I should be allowed to question Islam, its writings, its prophet, and teachings just like fundamentalist Christian values are questioned everyday here at OSU. This does not promote dialogue but rather writes everyone right of the aisle off as the potential perpetrators of hate crimes.”
Alam Payind and Melinda McClimans, director and assistant director of the Middle East Studies Center at Ohio State, did not comment when asked by The College Fix if Ohio State was aware of or had any reported acts of prejudice or discrimination against Muslims at OSU.
They did say, however, that this is event will provide “multiple perspectives on the Middle East.”
“We consider it a normal academic exercise to create thoughtful spaces for discussion of controversial issues related to the Middle East and Middle Eastern cultures. This includes both prominent anti-Islamic views, and the issues of violent extremism. For example, after recent terrorist activities by al-Qaida, ISIL, Hamas, Taliban, and Alkhorasan, we produced several videos on jihadi extremist groups. And we are actively engaged with all branches of the military to educate officers, soldiers and sailors who are about to deploy,” they said in an e-mail to The College Fix.
They went onto say that since its designation as a National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education in 1981, the Middle East Studies Center at the Ohio State University has supported teaching, research and outreach activities relevant to the Middle East in “a balanced and scholarly fashion.”
“In the past 36 years, we have strictly followed the principles of academic freedom, based on the guidelines of both the Ohio State University and the U.S. Department of Education,” they said.