By Allie Bice –
Militarism, materialism and racism – these are the aspects of Martin Luther King’s 1967 “Three Evils of Society” address that continue to reflect today’s Islamophobic society, a prominent leader of the Muslim community told Arizona State University students Jan. 22.
Hatem Bazian, a scholar and researcher who also co-founded the first accredited Muslim college in America, told ASU students how relevant King’s address is decades later.
“The three evils outlined by MLK are all around us,” Bazian said. “They are the DNA that give rise to the blueprint of today’s falsely called ‘modern society.’”
Using graphics to illustrate the scope of the societal problem, Bazian said America capitalizes on building up its military, while also inadvertently maintaining its materialistic and racist mentality.
“Nothing is modern when racism, materialism and militarism are set by design and are barbarically, clinically and methodically killing millions,” Bazian said in his ASU address.
In another point, Bazian said the media played a factor in society’s behavior toward the Muslim population.
“The media pursues the agenda that reflects elites’ priorities, and journalists are under tight rein as to when, who, and what is to be covered,” Bazian said.
Bazian explained that the mainstream media is to blame because it victimizes and simultaneously accuses Muslims of attacking themselves.
“The root cause of this faulty reporting is that elites in civil society have prepared and stoked the conditions that embolden people to take their fists to Muslim faces in the first place,” Bazian said.
Bazian concluded by stating that the hatred of Muslims is an easy way to diverge from the real societal problems.
“Muslims today are an instrument that shapes and reshapes power disparities at a time when all existing modalities have failed,” Bazian said.
Audience member Sarah Syed, who is also the president of ASU’s Muslim Student Association and a health science senior, said she watched Bazian’s lectures featured his website in preparation for his lecture at the university. Bazian is a co-founder and professor at Zaytuna College and a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley.
“He’s an intellectual authority in the Muslim community,” Syed said. “He speaks about power and politics, as well as orientalism and Islamophobia, and has the religious and academic background to do so.”
Like Syed, Johnny Martin, president of ASU’s Sun Devils Are Better Together and a religious studies senior, found Bazian inspirational. “I know first-hand that Islamophobia is a real issue on our campus,” Martin said. “And I’m glad Bazian talked about how it is deeply interconnected with issues like racism and all of these other forms of bigotry.”
Martin also said that he is excited to be a part of ASU’s new initiative to be more religiously inclusive on campus.
“ASU’s Dean of Students Office will begin responding to issues of Islamophobia by bringing Muslim students together to share their experiences and strategize solutions,” Martin said.