Last night, a group of students and faculty members gathered in the Petteruti lounge for a teach-in entitled “Muslims at Brown and the Reality of Islamophobia.” The room quickly filled with people and boxes of pizza.
The event began with a quick introduction by Adnan Adrian Wood-Smith, the Associate Chaplain of the University for the Muslim community, who outlined the layout of the next 30 minutes. He then introduced Reverend Janet Cooper Nelson, Chaplain of the University. Reverend Nelson spoke briefly, noting that Brown has a rich and diverse religious community and that, since its founding, Brown has always been religiously neutral “in terms of of who taught here and who studied here.”
Provost Richard Locke then spoke briefly, emphasizing that politicians and the media have used recent events for their own gain in many cases and that it is of utmost importance that all members of the Brown University community listen and “take care of one another.”
After the provost finished speaking, the organizers showed a video entitled “American Muslims: Fact vs. Fiction.” The video began with an overview of a few stereotypes of Muslims that are often perpetuated in Western media, such as the idea that “all Muslims are terrorists” or that “Muslim women are oppressed.” Following these statements, the video sought to explain that these stereotypes are inaccurate. For example, only 6% of domestic terrorist events in the US involve Muslim people or are motivated by Islam, and Muslims compose 82-97% of those killed or injured by terrorist attacks. Muslims are the religious group in the US that is most likely to believe that other religious groups can reach salvation, and Muslims are more likely than any other religious group to believe that killing civilians is never justified. In spite of this, only 27% of United States citizens have a favorable view of Islam.