Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Politics, Power, and the Periphery: Responses to the Recent Poll of Texas Muslims

Fri, April 28, 2017 | CLA 0.130

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

In response to a recent letter dispersed by Texas Representative Kyle Biedermann to Texas area Imams and Muslim Student Associations, UT’s Middle Eastern Studies Graduate Student Association (MESGSA) is hosting a panel discussion regarding this recent act of surveillance and how it serves to intimidate religious freedom in the Texan Muslim community. The letter, which was sent out Jan. 11, requested a response by Jan. 20 - shortly before the annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day, which was scheduled for Jan. 31. The letter requested that the recipients complete a 3-question survey regarding Sharia Law and Muslim Reform and return the letter so its contents could be shared with local Texas officials. The timing of the letter, along with the intimidating nature of singling out of Texan Muslims, has evoked concern from Muslim communities and other unaffiliated Texans. However, others see the poll as a necessary measure to protect the safety of Americans. The panel discussion will feature perspectives from academic and community members who will discuss the nature of the Biedermann’s letter, exploring the implications of a state-administered religious poll as a form of surveillance that may threaten democratic ideals of religious freedom under the guise of defense of democracy. The conversation will be moderated by the MESGSA and the panel will feature the perspectives of lawyers, historians, Muslims, Islamic reformers, religious scholars, and activists. The event will be free and open to the public and will consist of three parts: lecture, open discussion by panel members, and audience Q&A. Please join us in fostering an informative and constructive discourse on protecting religious freedom, particularly as it relates to the contemporary sociopolitical climate of Islam in America.

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