Moustafa Bayoumi, an English professor at Brooklyn College, came to Binghamton University on Thursday evening to share his experiences with Islamophobia in the United States and discuss the Middle East and the Islamic world post-9/11.
Bayoumi said the lecture, titled “This Muslim American Life, in the Age of Donald Trump,” was meant to offer a voice of reason in the face of the chaotic election season. He was brought to BU by associate professor of art history Nancy Um and associate professor of history Kent Schull.
Before introducing Bayoumi, Um and Schull explained why it is important for students and society to be aware of the current situation surrounding the Arab world, Islamophobia and racism.
“There is quite a new astigmatism in the United States against the label of Muslim,” Schull said. “It has been labeled as a new characterization and stereotype of something bad and evil that is being projected on an entire population of citizens in the United States and across the world.”
According to Bayoumi, there is a lack of knowledge of minority groups in the United States, leading to their marginalization. He said that a constant struggle of ignorance and misunderstanding in the United States anchored citizens to their stagnant beliefs, and they are therefore uneducated around the intricacies of Muslim culture.
Kicking off his lecture, Bayoumi delved into what he said truly makes presidential candidate Donald Trump a crude and outwardly bigoted person.
“We cannot forget that Donald Trump essentially began his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and criminals, denigrating women, mocking the disabled and talking pejoratively about African Americans,” Bayoumi said.
Bayoumi said he feared that regardless of who wins the presidential election, a sense of hostility toward those of Arab ethnicity and the Muslim faith will not dissipate. Since 2005, Bayoumi said, about half of the United States has admitted to some form of antagonism toward Arabs.
Nuray Seyidzade, a senior majoring in human development, said she felt Bayoumi made extremely valid points.
“I know what it is like to live in the United States as an immigrant Islamic person and the struggles you have to go through to hide your identity to make sure you avoid all the animosity surrounding Islamic people,” Seyidzade said.
According to Noor Nazar, a junior majoring in accounting, the event really helped students understand the underlying factors fueling bigotry toward Islamic culture, and highlighted that the media should not always be trusted.
“As a Muslim American, I feel as if I should not be the one apologizing for something that I did not do,” Nazar said. “I actually feel really tired about it, and you could tell he wasn’t apologetic for being Muslim. We’re doing so much defending of ourselves that we forget to show people what Muslims really are.”