Muslim American Relations and How UCI Could Have Avoided a PR Disaster

| June 22, 2010 | 0 Comments



Muslims in the Military


A question that has been voiced from several areas is on “Muslim American Relations”.¬†Unfortunately, many individuals and groups think this immediately points to a division within American society, that being Muslims on one side and Americans on the other.

It can be seen this way; but it can also be seen another way.

Personally, I don’t accept a division of the two groups (cited most recently in my opposition piece to the mosque on Ground Zero). Rather, Muslim American is just that – understanding relations within Muslim American groups and taking that one step further to consider American relations with a larger Muslim community that is beyond our borders.

The idea of understanding or advocating Muslim American relations doesn’t not automatically reflect an attitude that sees the two (Muslim and American) as mutually exclusively; to understand the context in which it’s being used we have to direct our attention to the individual citing that phrase.

Furthermore, the idea of utilizing advisers under this position is a smart move for those who are stuck in political plays with media attention on them.  The most recent example is UCI, which faced an erudite outburst from its Muslim Student Association.

UCI, in it’s first year of frustration with it’s MSA was advised to bring on a Muslim student adviser that reports directly to the administration – a role that could act as a bridge between the students and the administration and help curtail radical activity and embarrassing outbursts that did nothing to advance either the image of the university or the status of the group. That letter from me, back in 2003, was ignored by the then chancellor. ¬†[On a side note, the idea of divisive religious groups in schools is also doing very little to bridge gaps.]

uci_msa_michael_orenIn the case of the MSA encounter with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, UCI could have easily distanced itself from a backlash on either end by allowing the MSA Muslim Adviser to determine and exercise a judgment on the future of the group – a decision that would have been made under the counsel of a greater UCI administration. The decision could have been made a lot sooner with a lot less negative publicity for the university.

Additionally, a decision delivered by the adviser would have helped ease tensions between UCI and it’s Muslim students, with the latter are already viewing the university with suspicion and paranoia – a sentiment that only stokes discriminatory attitudes and ensures future problems.

But the point comes back to community relations. As much as America is struggling with parts of its Muslim society, so is the Muslim community struggling internally. Any outside groups wishing to empower moderate Muslims and a secular pluralistic Islam would be well-advised to harness the potential here and do what the can to embolden the moderate movement within the Muslim American community.

Source: NY Times, Muslim Girl Magazine, OC Register

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Category: U.S., EDUCATION

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