Keynote Address | The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom
What we are witnessing in the post-9/11 era is a type and degree of profiling and targeting of Muslims that more closely resembles racial discrimination historically experienced by African American, Native American, and Asian American communities (of all faiths). Hence Muslims are being treated as a race, and more specifically a suspect race, rather than as a religious minority to be protected from persecution. For that reason, government officials and members of the public—who may attest their belief in religious freedom—do not view targeting Muslims in national security and immigration practices as a threat to religious freedom. In this preview to her forthcoming book, Professor Sahar Aziz explores this paradox–how a religious minority could be so overtly discriminated against in a country that privileges religious freedom legally and normatively. The answers illuminate both racial contours of religious freedom in American law and society.
Sahar Aziz is Professor of Law, Chancellor’s Social Justice Scholar, and Middle East and Legal Studies Scholar at Rutgers University Law School. Professor Aziz’s scholarship adopts an interdisciplinary approach to examine intersections of national security, race, and civil rights with a focus on the adverse impact of national security laws and policies on racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in the U.S. She is Founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights (csrr.rutgers.edu). She is also a faculty affiliate of the African American Studies Department at Rutgers University-Newark and a member of the Rutgers-Newark Chancellor’s Commission on Diversity and Transformation. Professor Aziz is an editor for the Arab Law Quarterly and the International Journal of Middle East Studies. Professor Aziz teaches courses on national security, critical race theory, Islamophobia, evidence, torts, and Middle East law.
John L. Esposito is University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs, and Professor of Islamic Studies and Founding Director of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Past President of the American Academy of Religion and Middle East Studies Association . His publications include: Asian Islam in the 21st Century and Islam in Asia Today.