How to Create Your Own Reproductive Justice Working Group

The phrase “reproductive justice” was coined in 1994 by a group of Black women attending a pro-choice conference.  They wanted a concept that merged reproductive rights activism in broader social justice struggles.  Since September 2012, the UC Berkeley Center on Reproductive Rights & Justice has hosted the CRG Reproductive Justice Working Group.  The group’s primary goal is to co-create an environment in which participants can deepen their understanding of reproductive justice and develop practical ideas for integrating reproductive justice into their research and practice. Last fall, the group published a guide for how to create your own reproductive justice working group!  In...

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Drones: The dark side of power

In a recent Al Jazeera op/ed, “Drones: The Dark Side of Power,” Dr. Hatem Bazian analyzes the politics of drone warfare in the on going US “war on terror.” Here’s an excerpt: In the science fiction universe of “Star Wars”, the Death Star is a moon-sized space station capable of destroying an entire planet with a powerful weapon. As the Galactic Empire’s ultimate weapon, it is used to destroy the home planet of Alderaan in “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” after Grand Moff Tarkin attempts to pressure Princess Leia to give up the location of the secret rebel base. She gives a false location, but Tarkin destroys Alderaan anyway. As an “ultimate weapon”, the fearsome capability of the Death Star is revealed and it continues to be used as a weapon of choice. In the real world of military strikes and the mounting losses of civilian lives in Arab and Muslim nations, in the United States’ war on terror one of the many weapons of choice are drones, which can be deployed anywhere in the world, and their effects are immediately devastating. It is the indiscriminate killing of so-called targets of interest without the mobilisation or loss of US troops on the ground. Added to this is the highly dubious tactic of “double taps“, whereby a second strike closely follows the first strike, as people gather to help the...

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On constitutions, Sharia and Muslim political thought

In the recent Al Jazeera op-ed, “On constitutions, Sharia and Muslim political thought,” Dr. Hatem Bazian considers the legacies and possiblities of creating an inclusive polity in Muslim-majority nation states in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.  Here’s an excerpt: In the Arab Spring’s aftermath, and the catastrophic divisions and violence in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia – not to forget ongoing debates in almost every Muslim majority country concerning citizenship, rights, responsibilities of citizens and the constitutional contestations in the modern nation state – Muslim political parties across the region are facing textual, interpretational and conceptual challenges. While public debates on TV and in the press across the region have simplistically focused on what aspects of Islamic law to be included, and whether the overarching objectives of Islamic Law should be the guiding principle, or to incorporate as many particulars as politically possible, if one has the power; the real challenge centres on the conceptualisation of a nation-state and how to constitute an inclusive polity. The larger debate in Muslim majority states with diverse religious and ethnic communities centres on defining the nature of citizenship. Who is a citizen, what rights do they have and what are the responsibilities of each in the modern nation-state? More critical at this juncture is whether a modern Islamic nation-state could be constituted with different classes of citizenship that are accorded unequal rights based on religious...

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Islamophobia in the Netherlands

Islamophobia in the Netherlands by Ineke van der Valk published by Amsterdam University Press Since 11 September 2001 – and especially since the murder of Theo van Gogh – Muslims and Islam have frequently been unfavourably portrayed at the heart of public debate. Manifestations of Islamophobia can be found on the Internet, in comments by the PVV, and in acts of violence committed against mosques. Dutch anti-discrimination policies are coming under pressure now that this ideology has forced its way to the centre of the political stage. How do negative connotations about Muslims come about? Where are the acts of violence taking place? Is the Netherlands the front line in the ‘clash of civilisations’, as has been claimed by politicians, opinion formers and others in the international arena? Or is it all about an exclusion mechanism? The author states that shifts in the political climate can only be fully understood if racism, ideology, and language are involved in the analysis. Her research for Islamophobia and Discrimination consisted of a study of relevant literature, an analysis of documents, and the gathering of data on the various methods people use to express their views.  Links for the free download of the English and French translations: English version: version Francais: Excerpt from the Introduction: On 22 July 2011, a Norwegian Islamophobic right-wing extremist1 carried out a massacre of young social democrats on the...

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Anti-Islam ads on San Francisco buses put Muslims at risk

Anti-Islam ads on San Francisco buses put Muslims at risk Hatem Bazian, Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project Silicon Valley Mercury News, 9/8/12 Dr. Hatem Bazian, Director of the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project, recently submitted an op-ed to the Silicon Valley Mercury News about the recent controversial, anti-Islam ads currently on San Francisco public buses.  Here’s an excerpt:  Ads running on San Francisco municipal buses, paid for by noted anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller and her American Freedom Defense Initiative, have sparked controversy about hate speech and fears they could stoke more violence against the American Muslim community. The ads come at a time when American Muslims have suffered at least nine attacks across the nation over a two-week period in August. The advertisements, cribbed from an Ayn Rand quote, state: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the American Freedom Defense Initiative as a hate group. The outcry has focused on discrimination against adherents of Islam, and rightly so. On Aug. 10, pigs’ feet were strewed on the lawn of a mosque in Ontario, while Muslim worshipers in Hayward were pelted by oranges and lemons as they walked into prayer. In Illinois, an acid bomb was thrown at an Islamic school and shots were fired at a mosque. In both cases, worshipers...

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