New graduate class coming this fall helps combat Islamophobia

A new graduate course coming this fall will help students understand Islamophobia in the past and present through media, such as film and literature.

Khani Begum, who will teach the course called “Deconstructing Islamophobia,” said the class is to help students understand Islam “is not exactly related to terrorism itself, but that it is something certain groups have tried to move in the direction of making Islam their ‘rallying call’ … for their own agendas.”

Begum was inspired to create the class after speaking on panels about Islamophobia in the Bowling Green community.

Growing Islamophobia rhetoric has made its way into politics and at the forefront of mainstream media. Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump callied for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States and former opponent Ted Cruz demanded more policing and heavier monitoring on Muslim communities.

Begum, who is of Muslim, said the class shows how certain media and literatures view Islam and how to address Islamophobia in the graduate students’ own communities.

“When you see someone who is being demonized, what do you do? Do you step in there? How do you inform these people who are … trying to profile?” Begum wants to address these questions.

She said the new rhetoric society has seen post-9/11 isn’t particularly new at all, and Islam is not the first culture to be demonized or feared.

“The same thing happened with the Jewish populations in Europe,” she said. “It’s very similar, the way they were demonized by the Nazis.”

She hopes the course will get students to see this through both literature and film made by both the cultures that demonize Islam, but also medias made by others who showcase the lives of ordinary Muslims.

“We’re going to do a lot of theoretical writings that kind of trace the background … of Islamophobia,” Begum said. “When did it start … how was it first considered in the early centuries and now today? What are the different connotations of it?”

Begum also said the course is taking on a new and “innovative” task.

Students will complete a service learning assignment for their final class project. The students will be connecting with community groups such as Not in Our Town, The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, or WBGU-TV to produce a project based on the knowledge they have acquired throughout the semester.

“The students will have a chance to either produce a little short that could be shown on WBGU-TV,” she said. “They could do a panel of discussion with people from the community or they could do a short film.”

Only three students have signed up for the class so far, but she’s hoping for more participation as the fall semester approaches.

She also hopes to create an undergraduate class pertaining to Islamophobia.

“It would have to be more literature and film based, and not as much theory,” she said. “But we’d do a few essays … and maybe some media things.”

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