MESA Board Statement condemning the violent acts of September 11, 2001

The Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association condemns the violent acts of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. We offer our sincere condolences to all those personally affected by the tragedy.

It is with great sadness that we write in response to the tragic events of last week. We call for calm and seriousness of purpose as those who planned and perpetrated the crimes are identified and brought to justice in courts of law. We urge 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 the tragedy and to frame responses to it.

We are deeply concerned that people who are or appear to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern background have been and continue to be the victims of discrimination, harassment, and violence in this country and in other Western countries. Their safety and their civil rights must be protected. Any abrogation of the civil rights of Middle Eastern and Muslim citizens would constitute an additional and unconscionable form of discrimination. Further, we are deeply concerned that innocent people in the Middle East may become the targets of misguided retaliation. We commend the efforts of many public officials to prevent such acts, 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 United States, and must be addressed by the educational system at all levels. We urge our association’s members to 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 to communicate their invaluable knowledge and understanding to representatives of the media and to policy makers.

We advocate tolerance, education, understanding, and thoughtfully planned measures to assure that the horrific events of September 11 are not repeated or followed by further senseless destruction.

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