US media is reporting on the opening of what is described as the first Muslim College in America. According to a report in the LA Times:
"Why a Muslim College in America?" the Anaheim event was headlined, as if anticipating the query from audience members. And throughout the four-hour gathering, the speakers repeatedly stated why they believed such an institution was needed, calling it an idea whose time has come. Hatem Bazian, a UC Berkeley lecturer in Near East studies and a co-founder of Zaytuna, said that touch of defensiveness came after more than a year of crisscrossing the country and gauging sentiment from the American Muslim community. "There's still some lack of clarity from the members of the community whether this is something that is needed at this point or not," Bazian said after the fundraiser. "People need to feel this is something that is needed for them to invest in it." Zaytuna, which hopes to become the first accredited, four-year Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, this week welcomed its first students to its rented space in a Baptist seminary in Berkeley. The college, which has about a dozen faculty members, will offer two majors at first, in Arabic language and Islamic law and theology. Muslims in the U.S. have founded schools, mosques and religious organizations. An accredited college is the next step, Zaytuna's founders say. They cite a long tradition of other faiths founding their own educational institutions and seminaries. "If you have distinctive views of the world, it's important to have institutions to pass on that view," Zaytuna founder Sheikh Hamza Yusuf said. A convert to Islam and Northern California native, Yusuf is considered one of the leading Islamic scholars in the U.S. But the college, which has been in the works for several years, is more than just an item on a religious community's to-do list. Zaytuna (which means "olive" in Arabic) stems from a growing desire in much of the U.S. Muslim community for leaders and imams who understand Islam within a Western context. "In order to have an American Muslim identity, we needed leaders who were raised in institutions here to lead those communities," said Imam Zaid Shakir, another of the founders. Shakir, who converted to Islam while serving in the Air Force, is an Islamic scholar who has studied in Egypt, Syria and Morocco.
An online biography provides the following details about Dr. Bazian:
Hatem Bazian is the current president of the American Muslims for Palestine. Dr. Bazian received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in near eastern studies and ethnic studies and a master's degree in international relations from San Francisco State University. Currently, Dr. Bazian is a senior lecturer in the Near Eastern Studies and Ethnic Studies Departments at UC-Berkeley. In addition, Dr. Bazian is an adjunct professor at: UC-Berkeley Law School at Boalt Hall, religious studies at Saint Mary's College of California and UC-Davis. Dr. Bazian co-hosted "Islam Today", a weekly radio magazine show covering Islam and its diverse people around the world. Since 9/11, he has appeared on many TV and radio interviews and was also a translation consultant for the San Francisco Chronicle on a number of stories relating to Islam, Muslims and global politics.
One of the other officers of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is Salah Sarsour, a board member of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee as well as the registered agent for the Wisconsin chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS), a part of the US Muslim Brotherhood closely tied to the Egyptian organization. The Sarsour family in Milwaukee is known to have many ties to the Hamas infrastructure in the US. A previous post discussed a a "Gaza Solidarity Day" jointly organized by the MAS, the far-left A.N.S.W.E.R coalition, and the AMP.
Video from an April 2004 antiwar-rally shows Hatem Bazian calling for an "Intifada" in the US:
"Are you angry? [Yeah!] Are you angry? [Yeah!] Are you angry? [Yeah!] Well, we've been watching intifada in Palestine, we've been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing? How come we don't have an intifada in this country? Because it seem[s] to me, that we are comfortable in where we are, watching CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, and all these mainstream… giving us a window to the world while the world is being managed from Washington, from New York, from every other place in here in San Francisco: Chevron, Bechtel, [Carlyle?] Group, Halliburton; every one of those lying, cheating, stealing, deceiving individuals are in our country and we're sitting here and watching the world pass by, people being bombed, and it's about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here. And we know every— They're gonna say some Palestinian being too radical — well, you haven't seen radicalism yet!"
More video from the same conference show Bazian talking about the "Arabs who are coming to help" in Iraq. Dr. Bazian later claimed that his remarks on a US Intifada were misunderstood.
A previous post discussed statements by Hamza Yusuf that while rebuking the Holocaust denial movement, conflated the Holocaust with Palestine and Iraq. Other posts discussed his appearance at a Toronto conference featuring Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders and a statement he signed together with US Muslim Brotherhood leaders.