Saturday, October 27, 2007

Out-of-the-Box Thinking by Muslim Students at Berkeley

I was discussing the recent Newsweek story about Pakistan with my daughter Michelle who is a sophomore at UC Berkeley and a member of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) on campus. I explained to her my feelings about Newsweek's bias and about some of the reactions by my friends. In response, she told me about what happened at UC Berkeley last week where an anti-Muslim group was having "Islamo-Fascist Week" and how MSA responded to it. Initially, when the MSA members met to discuss how to respond, there were a few angry voices demanding a confrontational approach by disrupting the activities of "Islamo-Fascists Week" organizers. Fortunately, however, the saner elements prevailed and MSA decided to respond by organizing "Peace, Not Prejudice" week on campus. "Peace, Not Prejudice" was joined by 30 other student groups and turned out to be a great success. The "Peace, Not Prejudice" coalition success completely overshadowed the "Islamo-Fascist Week" organizers. Even the UC Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau threw his support behind the MSA sponsored events.

For full story, please visit The Berkeley Daily Planet.


Anonymous said...

Not only you should be proud of your daughter, you should also post a compilations to news papers and to MCAs across nation.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's piece on the underlying hate against SRK by Shiv Sena...I hope it helps expose the Indian right-wing hatemongers on the net:

Hate and dividing communities is the hallmark of right wing politics, wherever they are. Whether it is in Mumbai, bashing north Indian taxi drivers or Australian skinheads attacking Indian students – the underlying message is clear – “we” are different from “you” – and this some how gives “us” the right to violently exclude “you” from our society. If the “we” in this case is the majority, this gives the added bonus to whip up a majoritarian frenzy and ride to electoral victory using that.

The anti North Indian issue whipped up by Raj Thakre and now the Bal Thakre attack on Shahrukh Khan over his comments that Pakistani cricketer should have been considered for the IPL, are a part of this larger hate agenda.

The original movement for Maharashtrian identity was very different from the hate project of the Shiv Sena and the MNS. It was the left – both communists and socialists – that had played the key role in the movement for creating Maharashtra out of the erstwhile Bombay province. This was a part of the larger struggle for linguistic reorganisation of states, waged all over the country. These were not divisive movements – they did not turn against other communities but wanted the states to be based on language. These were the movements which complemented the national movement and allowed India to create itself as a multi national and multi ethnic state – a feat that was considered inconceivable by western commentators on India then.

The Shiv Sena model of Marathi pride from the very beginning was an exclusive and a divisive one. It started with attacks on South Indians in Mumbai – the Marathi identity was asserted from the very beginning as an exclusion of other communities from Mumbai. Of course, let us have no illusions that the ruling party then – that the Congress did not dirty its hand in this too. In order to break the left labour unions, particularly in the textile mills, the mill owners and the Congress joined hands to provide explicit and implicit support to Shiv Sena. The Marathi pride was the instrument not of asserting a Marathi identity but as an instrument of exclusion.