MESA Board Reaffirms Statement on Treatment of People of Middle East or Muslim Background
For Immediate Release (Boston, MA—November 19, 2016)
In light of a documented rise in hate crimes and rising concerns about bigotry in various forms—racism, anti-Semitism, and attacks on Muslims, Middle Easterners, and others— the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Board of Directors emphatically reaffirms its statement of November 23, 2015 (below) and calls its contents to the attention not only of the MESA membership but also the broader public.
As an organization, MESA intends to monitor events and create structures and fora for members to collect reliable information, identify appropriate resources, and share best practices on how scholars can act most constructively in the current environment.
The Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association condemns the increasing frequency and intensity of violent acts against civilians taking place in countries around the world. We are also alarmed at the related rise in the stereotyping and vilification of people of Middle East or Muslim background.
We urge, therefore, those with responsibility for United States policy in the Middle East and the Islamic world to avail themselves of the insights of scholarship as they seek to understand the background of these violent acts and to frame responses to them.
We are deeply concerned that people who are or appear to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern background—citizens, residents and displaced persons seeking refuge—have been and continue to be the victims of discrimination in the US as well as other countries. This discrimination can occur in any area of public life, including employment, travel, access to accommodation and access to other goods, services and facilities. It can involve harassment, vilification and at times actual violence.
We deplore the reckless rhetoric of some public figures that is only increasing the likelihood of discrimination and the violation of the civil rights of people of Middle East and Muslim background. We commend the efforts of public officials to prevent acts of harassment and retaliation and encourage them to redouble their efforts in this direction.
Ignorance and misunderstanding of the Middle East and the Islamic world are rife in the US and other Western countries. This lack of accurate information must be addressed by the educational system at all levels. We call upon MESA members to actively share their expertise about the Middle East, Islam, and the Islamic world with the communities in which they live and work, and to make every effort as educators to communicate their invaluable knowledge and understanding to representatives of the media and policy makers.
We advocate tolerance, education, understanding, and thoughtfully planned measures to assure that these acts of violence are not followed by further senseless destruction or discrimination.