A group of over 100 gathered at an Outreach Center organized and cross-campus sponsored teach-in on the Muslim community center in Manhattan issue on Tuesday 21 September. Professors Diana Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Member of the Faculty of Divinity; Director of the Pluralism Project and Master of Lowell House; Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Associate Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program; and, Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School provided analysis and some points of discussion, which were followed by a robust discussion with students, faculty, staff and the general public in attendance. Diana Eck contributed the point that the discrimination against Muslims in the US is not new, and follows an unfortunate pattern of similar discrimination with other minority groups. Ali Asani touched on the religious illiteracy and ignorance about Muslims, as well as the energy given to the loudest and crudest voices due to the mid-term elections in November. Finally, Mark Tushnet contributed a legal understanding of the First Amendament issues at stake and the various ways that the building of the community center could be interpereted.
This is the first of two teach ins that the Outerach Center and other groups on campus will be a part of sponsoring during the year to foster discussion on Middle East and Islam related topics. These will bring together noted faculty in a panel format, with discussion from attendees.
The Teach-In was filmed and video from it will be on the CMES website.
Co-sponsors of the teach in were: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Pluralism Project, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Harvard Foundation, Middle East Initiative Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard College Education Society, Islam in the West, Middle Eastern Law Students Association, Outreach Program Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard Islamic Society, Alliance for Justice in the Middle East.