Dr. Hatem Bazian, a highly respected lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley in the Near Eastern Studies and Ethnic Studies Departments, is being victimized by a mean-spirited national right-wing campaign. His just defense of the Palestinian people and his call to end war and suffering of all in Iraq are being maliciously portrayed as "incitement of violence and sedition."
Capitalizing on the vicious anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate fest that is escalating in the U.S. as the occupation in Iraq erupts, reaching critical stages, right-wing and racist forces are engaged in attacks designed to seriously jeopardize the well-being of Arab- and Muslim-Americans - particularly outspoken community leaders, prominent activists and critical scholars - in an attempt to completely silence dissent against the violence of occupation. Behind it all is the racist belief that critical speech and the Bill of Rights come to a screeching halt at the doorstep of Arab- and Muslim-American homes, thus falsely positioning them as conspirators within. Popular statements such as "we need regime change," that are being made daily by many all the way from John Kerry to progressive activists, are being twisted and presented as "sedition" and "treason" in a McCarthy-style purge.
Although Arab- and Muslim-Americans are particularly targeted and scapegoated, the attack on the Bill of Rights and the right to dissent is incrementally affecting all sectors without exception. The intent is to create a fully compliant population, criminalize opposition, and expand the political reach of an ideological right-wing extreme.
Dr. Bazian has been receiving livid hate mail; his work at the University is being challenged; and extremist elements are threatening his and his family's well-being. Like millions of Americans and people around the globe, Dr. Bazian has been an articulate and outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy - calling for a U.S. that is at peace with itself and with nations around the world on the basis of equality and liberty for all.
Hatem was a prominent student leader at San Francisco State University during the eighties and later at UC Berkeley in the nineties - both are institutions best known for their legacy of the free speech and anti-war movements. During his student years, he fully championed the rights of disenfranchised communities, people of color, supported ethnic, labor and gender studies, and worked to organize an effective U.S. student movement on a national scale in opposition to both NAFTA and GATT. Hatem served as Chair of the U.C. Berkeley Graduate Assembly, and from 1995-1999 was coordinator of the Graduate Minority Students Project of the Graduate Assembly, through which he spearheaded statewide efforts to defeat Proposition 209, a 1996 California-wide anti-affirmative action proposition. Bazian was also active in the anti-Apartheid struggle and Central American solidarity movements. In 1990, Hatem was the Chair of the National People of Color Student Coalition and executive member of the Board of the United States Student Association.
We ask you to take a stand in clear support of free speech and against the racist criminalization of Arab-Americans, Muslim-Americans and all people standing against war and occupation. The escalation of rhetoric by President Bush in conjunction with the increase in military force and attacks on the Iraqi people will likely give yet another green light for further anti-Arab and anti-Muslim backlash. We need to take a strong stand now!
Please write to the president of the University of California, Berkeley, at the following address to ask for protection and support for Dr. Hatem Bazian: Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl
Office of the Chancellor 200 California Hall #1500 Berkeley, CA 94720-1500 Telephone: (510) 642-7464 firstname.lastname@example.org
April 24, 2004 update: On April 10, Hatam Bazian, a Berkeley lecturer, called for an "intifada in America". The United Muslims Association of Florida, a known supporter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and other Islamist organizations, is now defending Hatem Bazian as "a moderate scholar and principled defender of Palestinians and other groups," circulating the same message A.N.S.W.E.R has posted above.