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Public Forum On: “Islamophobia: Is it getting Worse?”

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Date: Saturday, 28thJuly 2018

Time: 1400-1730

Venue: Spices Restaurant, Concorde Hotel, KL

Speaker:

Prof Jeffrey Kenney

Discussants:

Dr Chandra Muzaffar

Emeritus Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi

Moderator:

Elma Berisha

Organized by:

Islamic Renaissance Front


Edward Said, a renowned intellectual, penned the classic study of Orientalism as a discourse that not only stigmatized the Orient but also legitimized its domination by Western powers. The discourse, created and conveyed by an interlocking network of artists, experts, administrators, journalists and politicians, represents Islam as a monolithic and static religion, culture, indeed, entire civilization that resists not only change but, in particular, rational persuasion.

The discourse is furthermore reductionist and essentialist in that it portrays all Muslims as fully determined by an all-encompassing Islamic ethos. The discourse thereby denies Muslims the free agency and reason to adapt, alter or reject their faith. This supposition, moreover, conveniently dismisses Muslims’ self-representation as the nonsensical utterances of persons intellectually imprisoned by a benighted creed and culture.

In the Orientalist discourse, Muslims are represented rather than heard, suspected rather than trusted and governed rather than empowered. Finally, by creating the proverbial “negative other”, the discourse self-servingly projects a positive counter-image of the West and Westerners as utterly other and therefore superior to unenlightened Orientals. “The Orient,” writes Said, “has helped to define Europe or the West as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience...European culture gained its strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self.”

Hence this forum will objectively discuss and critically debate on this issue. Is Islamophobia real and normalised in many sections of the Western society in particular, and appears to be on the rise in all its forms? Or is it simply a fiction to shut down debate?

Programs

200-230: Registration

230-240: Opening speech by the Chairperson, Ehsan Shahwahid

240-250: Speech by moderator, Elma Berisha

250-330: Presentation by Prof Jeffrey Kenney

330-350: Speech by Emeritus Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi

350-410: Speech byDr Chandra Muzaffar

410-530: Discussion

530: Tea

Speakers’ Biographies

Prof Jeffrey Kenney is a Professor of Religious Studies at Depauw University, Indiana, US. He is an expert on Religious discourse, Comparative religion, Modern Islam, Islamism, Religion and politics in the Muslim world, Radical religious groups in the Middle East. His areas of special interest and study are Modern Islam in Egypt, religious interpretations in modern contexts, ways religion interacts with secularization, and how people talk about Islam in contexts that don’t seem to be religious (i.e., using Islam to facilitate something else). Kenney is author of books about militant Islamism in Egypt, and religion-state relations in Egypt. Following a 2012-13 Fulbright award to do research in Malaysia, he is writing a book about teaching comparative religion in Malaysia.

Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr. Shad Saleem Faruqi is a Professor of Law who has served Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Shah Alam, Selangor in various capacities from 1971 onwards. He specialized in Constitutional Law and Human Rights issues. He is the author of Human Rights, Globalisation and the Asian Economic Crisis, Islam International Law and the War Against Terrorism, Islam, Democracy and Development, Document of Destiny: The Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia and The Bedrock of Our Nation: Our Constitution. He is the co-author of Media Law & Regulations in Malaysia and Co-editor of Decolonising Our Universities – Towards a Non-Eurocentric Paradigm. He has contributed over 350 articles to legal periodicals, anthologies and newspapers and has presented over 300 seminar papers in 15 countries including the US, UK, Australia, Germany and Japan. He is currently Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Chair Holder, Faculty of Law in University of Malaya.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is both a social activist and an academic. He is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), an international NGO based in Malaysia, which seeks to critique global injustice and to develop an alternative vision of a just and compassionate civilization guided by universal spiritual and moral values. He has published extensively on civilizational dialogue, international politics, religion, human rights and Malaysian society.

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