Rutgers’ Aziz to discuss issues of speech, race, religion for Interfaith Lecture Serie


It took Sahar Aziz and her co-author more than a year to research, and then write, a report from the Center for Security, Race and Rights at Rutgers Law School titled “Presumptively Antisemitic: Islamophobic Tropes in Palestine-Israel Discourse.” 

The report was released in November 2023; it was timely, just weeks after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and Israel’s subsequent retaliation, but Aziz’s research has long dealt with national security, race and civil rights — as well as adverse effects of national security policies on racial, ethnic and religious minorities in America.

It is this research and her lived experiences that Aziz will speak about at 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy, giving the second installment of the Interfaith Lecture Series’ Week One theme of “Race and the American Religious Experience.” 

Aziz is the founding director of the Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights, and serves in a number of other roles at Rutgers University Law School, including Distinguished Professor of Law, Chancellor’s Social Justice Scholar, and Middle East and Legal Studies Scholar. Widely published, she’s the author of The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom, which explores how religious bigotry racializes immigrant Muslims.

The work at CSRR revolves around three themes; the center describes those themes as the intersection of race and religion in the United States; the criminalization of Muslim identity through both domestic and global policies; and transnational rights and security arising from relations between the United States and Muslim-majority countries.

“Through academic research, public education, and advocacy, the Center for Security, Race and Rights supports pluralism, religious freedom, and racial equality,” its website states.

That work has drawn fire in the months since Oct. 7; the House Committee of Education and the Workforce earlier this year launched an investigation into the center and Aziz, claiming that CSRR “has become notorious as a hotbed of radical antisemitic, anti-American, anti-Israel, and pro-terrorist activity.” Hundreds of law school professors nationwide condemned the investigation as politically motivated and a threat to academic freedom and freedom of speech.

In an interview with Alex N. Press of Jacobin following the release of the November 2023 report, Aziz said every American should be deeply concerned about what the crises of violence in Palestine and anti-free speech movements in academia could mean for the future.

“The real threats are when we start to accept practices that are authoritarian. When you have the Students for Justice in Palestine being suspended and shut down at various universities, that is a significant threat to free speech, academic freedom, college activism, and the life of the university,” she said. “That’s going to have long-term implications for higher education and for college students regardless of what they believe in and what their relationship is to Palestine-Israel.”

Tags : interfaith lectureinterfaith lecture previewPresumptively Antisemitic: Islamophobic Tropes in Palestine-Israel DiscourseRace and the American Religious ExperienceSahar AzizThe Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom

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