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MUSTAFA BAYOUMI Printer Friendly Page

How Does it Feel to Be a Victim? Ask Prof. Bayoumi
By Cinnamon Stillwell and Rima Greene
March 15, 2011

 


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  • Associate professor of English at Brooklyn College
  • Claims that there has been an increase in the incidence of hate crimes against American Muslims since 9/11
  • Says, “Muslim-bashing has become socially acceptable in the United States”



See also:  Edward Said



Born in Zürich, Switzerland and raised in Kingston, Ontario, Moustafa Bayoumi earned a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in the early 1990s. Today he is an associate professor of English at Brooklyn College. Bayoumi, who co-edited The Edward Said Reader, has published academic essays in such journals as Amerasia, The Arab Studies Quarterly, Interventions, The Journal of Asian American Studies, and Transition. The Yale Journal of Criticism. His writings also have appeared in The London Review of Books, The Nation, The Progressive, and The Village Voice.

Viewing Israel as an oppressor nation that tramples the civil and human rights of the Palestinian people with great “cruelty,” Bayoumi is an advocate of the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement which seeks to economically cripple the Jewish state. He attributes Palestinian suicide bombings “not [to] pathological terrorism or cynical politics, but [to] a brutal [Israeli] military occupation that has been strangling the Palestinian people for decades.”

Bayoumi contends that in the aftermath of 9/11, armed INS officials, U.S. marshals, and FBI agents commonly rousted American Muslims from their beds “in the middle of the night” to arrest and investigate them for possible terrorist connections.

In September 2002, Bayoumi, citing fraudulent statistics put forth by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, lamented that “an upswing in hate crimes [against American Muslims] has already begun.” “This is hardly surprising,” he reasoned. “For the past year [since 9/11], Muslims have endured a daily barrage of demagoguery, distortions and outright lies about their faith. Never well understood in this country, Islam is now routinely caricatured.”

Bayoumi took up this theme again in March 2006, asserting that “Muslim-bashing has become socially acceptable in the United States.” In a September 2006 article in The Nation, he wrote that ever since 9/11, Arab Americans had been “experiencing something similar to McCarthy-era redbaiting.” Two years after that, Bayoumi wrote: “It’s been seven years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and many young American Muslims are convinced that much of American society views them with growing hostility. They're right.”

Also in 2008, Bayoumi condemned the newly released DVD film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, which accurately describes fundamentalist Islam’s quest to establish worldwide dominance over all nations and all other faiths. Bayoumi depicted the film as a propagandistic production that smears American Muslims by suggesting that an alarming number of them are, in Bayoumi's words, “sympathetic to the radicals and that they are a fifth column, poised to take over the United States at a moment’s notice.” “The consequences of all of this fear-mongering translates into what appears to be a troubling rise in violence against Muslim Americans,” said Bayoumi.

Bayoumi is the editor of the 2009 book How Does it Feel To Be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America. This collection of biographical stories about young, Brooklyn-based Arab-Americans puts forth the notion that members of this demographic are subjected to widespread prejudice, mistreatment, and discrimination every day of their lives. The first portion of the book's title originated with a quote from W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, as Bayoumi explains: “I stole the title from Du Bois; it resonated with me ... what to do about the increasing dehumanization of the Arab-American population.”

Controversy erupted in August 2010 when Brooklyn College designated Bayoumi's book as its “common reader,” meaning that it would be a required text for all incoming students. When a number of those students, as well as parents and commentators, subsequently complained that the book was too ideologically imbalanced to merit such status, Bayoumi blamed the “tabloid media” and “conservative bloggers” such as Bruce Kesler—a Brooklyn College alumnus who broke the story by publicly cutting his bequest to the college—for the imbroglio. Summing up his thoughts on the matter, Bayoumi remarked: “Opposition to my book seems symptomatic of our times ... all things Muslim or Arab are called radical.”

In July 2012 Bayoumi published an article in The Nation titled “Fear and Loathing of Islam,” wherein he stated: “Something has gone terribly wrong for American Muslims when, more than a decade after the terrorist attacks of September 11, anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States continues to grow.”

Extending the narrative of Arab victimhood well beyond America’s borders, Bayoumi is also the editor of Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: the Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How it Changed the Course of the Israeli-Palestine Conflict. For details of the pro-Hamas, anti-Israel activities and agendas of the Free Gaza Movement that launched the flotilla, click here.

 

 

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