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Author of American Islamophobia to speak at CSULB

To open up a dialogue about Islamophobia in the United States, Associated Students Inc. plans to welcome critical race theorist and law professor, Khaled A. Beydoun.

Beydoun will lead a discussion about “Race and Muslims in America” on April 23 in the University Student Union Beach Auditorium from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

His latest book, “American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise to Fear” discusses the history of Islamophobia and how negative stigmas have impacted the American legal system.

ASI Chief Diversity Officer Yasmin Elasmar explained what she wants students to gain from the experience.

“We hope to increase awareness about social injustices and discuss ways that we can combat these issues of inequity both on and off campus,” Elasmar said.

The conversation was prompted by ASI’s recently established Social Justice and Equity Committee, which Elasmar said will create ways to increase conversations and learning opportunities about social injustices.

Students around campus weighed in on their feelings about the upcoming discussion.

“I am really excited to attend this event because I feel as though we are some of the least represented people on campus,” said senior psychology major Khalid Bahta. “I think the only way we achieve any progress toward change is by having these types of ice-breaking conversations.”

While some students voiced excitement, others worried about possible negative feedback from attendees.

“Things like this can be really good, but it can also rekindle the fire,” said Kumar Sambhav, a recent computer science graduate. Sambhav and a fellow university graduate sat on the lawn of the upper quad and discussed possible repercussions of the event.

“I believe things like this can educate people, but it depends — it’s 50/50. There could be people throwing stuff or saying ‘get away.’ That could happen. We don’t need that here.”

Other students said they believed events like this help bridge the gap between those with different backgrounds or political affiliations.

“As a Trump supporter, I sometimes get perceived as an automatic racist by minority groups,” said Kyle Williams, a senior majoring in international business. “Just because someone leans heavy to the right, doesn’t make him racist. I’m proud to be a part of these important and essential conversations.”

Wayne Camp contributed to this article.

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