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Put yourself in their place

Reader comment on item: Islamists Police the Classroom [at the University of South Florida]

Submitted by Charles R.L. Power (United States), Jan 7, 2004 at 16:52

Your attitude presupposes that adherents of Islam are the bad guys. OK, they often are, but we are not supposed to make such prejudgements in civilized society, certainly not in a classroom context.

If a Christian were to announce a class in Jewish studies, would anyone take it amiss that a Jew or two might want to attend to ensure that there weren't too many glaring inaccuracies in the course material?

Or to give a more heated context, wouldn't some Christians want to audit a Muslim's class in Christian studies if this were possible? Of course in a Muslim country this might not be possible, if the idea of a class in Christian studies even made sense (I doubt a Muslim institution would be interested in offering one). But we're supposed to be different. The difference should be that we are willing to open up the forum of ideas.

Certainly, if observers of a class in Islamic studies acted to silence legitimate discussion which made them uncomfortable (...such as to mention Islam as a motivation for terrorism in the 20th and 21st centuries), they should be asked to leave. But one should not prejudge that this would be the effect of observation.
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