Please check out the link to my latest publication on the post-conflict educational realities of Rohingya refugee youth here
Please check out recent articles that I've published with Yaqeen Institute here
Dear friends and colleagues, please find below an article of mine that was recently published on Counterpunch.org:
The Muslim Terrorist Dialectic
by Naved Bakali
One of the many paradoxes in the modern age is that there is an overabundance of knowledge and information available to the masses, yet, easy access to information has created a space for exaggerated views and uninformed opinions to proliferate. As such, we have more knowledge available to us, yet many of us remain misinformed. With a plethora of uncritical and un-nuanced information bites easily available, a Muslim terrorist dialectic has emerged, reinforcing a narrative that Muslim men are dangerous, violent, and prone to acts of terrorism. This most often occurs when radicalized Muslim individuals engage in random acts of violence, in which civilians are murdered and/or injured, as recently occurred in Edmonton, Alberta. When these acts of violence occur in North America and Europe, there’s a concerted effort in the media to portray such random ‘lone wolf’ acts of violence as being linked to some global Muslim terrorist infrastructure, and in doing so asserting that Islam is the root cause for these actions. However, deep and detailed analysis, of the possible psychological, emotional, or social states of the perpetrators to help understand these actions, beyond terrorism inspired by Islam, is completely absent.
For example, in the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, ruthlessly murdered 49 and injured 58 men at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Immediately, this was labeled as an act of terrorism. However, mainstream media outlets engaged in very little analysis of why Mateen committed this crime. Mateen was a closeted gay man, who according to friends and family, was ashamed and struggling with his homosexuality. The perception of Mateen being a self-hating, psychologically damaged individual was elusive in media portrayals of the story. Such a narrative, would be essential in trying probe the motivations for his actions. Similarly, in Europe hundreds of young men and women have joined terrorist organizations, and a handful have committed acts of violence and terrorism locally. These events are given widespread media attention and have become instrumental in shaping the political narratives in a number of European nations. There is no shortage of discussions describing what is happening when it comes to Muslims and terrorism, however there is a lack of explanation as to why it is happening. Muslims in a number of these countries are less educated, face higher rates of unemployment, and have been socially and economically marginalized through discrimination and identity politics. However, these issues are rarely discussed when trying to understand the motives of these criminals.
It would seem that many Muslims have also internalized the Muslim terrorist dialectic, as they are always in a rush to condemn acts of violence and terrorism committed by fringe elements of Muslim society. However, are such acts necessary? Why do Muslims feel they need to condemn the acts of radicalized extremists? Muslims who possess extremist and radical views represent a miniscule minority, as multiple studies have shown. Muslims who actually commit acts of violence represent an even smaller fraction of Muslims globally. Yet, Muslims are constantly obliged to shore up their ‘good Muslim’ credentials, by constantly condemning these acts of violence, even when there’s little to suggest they are acts of terrorism inspired by Islam. When similar acts of violence are committed by Christian fundamentalists, do Christians feel they need to condemn such actions? When radicalized Buddhist monks indiscriminately slaughter Muslim families in Myanmar, do peaceful Buddhists around the world feel they need to condemn these actions?
The Muslims terrorist dialectic, which presumes that all random acts of violence committed by Muslims are acts of terrorism inspired by Islam is fraught with logical fallacies. Muslims who commit acts of violence, like members of other faith-based communities, are complex actors, who have a multiplicity of motivations and reasons for committing such acts. Religion may play a role, however, their views cannot be conflated with those of mainstream Muslims, as their beliefs represent a radical divergence from traditional Islamic teachings and beliefs. Muslims themselves need to come to terms with this reality, and stop feeling the need to apologize for their extremist co-religionists. Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and members of other faith-based communities are unapologetic for their extremist co-religionists. It’s time for Muslims to be unapologetically Muslim.
Naved Bakali is the author of Islamophobia: Understanding Anti-Muslim Racism Through the Experience of Muslim Youth.
Dear friends and colleagues, I'm happy to announce the release of my new book: Islamophobia: Understanding anti-Muslim Racism through the Lived Experiences of Muslim Youth. The book is available on Amazon:
Hope you find it insightful!
Here's an abstract for the book:
The 9/11 terror attacks and the ensuing War on Terror have profoundly impacted Muslim communities across North America. Islamophobia: Understanding Anti-Muslim Racism through the Lived Experiences of Muslim Youth is a timely exploration of the experiences of young Canadian Muslims and the challenges they have encountered since 9/11. Through framing anti-Muslim racism, or 'Islamophobia', from a critical race perspective, Naved Bakali theorizes how racist treatment of Muslims in public and political spheres has been mediated through the War on Terror. Furthermore, he examines the lived experiences of Muslim youth as they navigate issues relating to race, gender, identity, and politics in their schools and broader society. This book uncovers systemic bias and racism experienced by Muslim youth in a climate that is increasingly becoming hostile towards Muslims. Ultimately, the findings detailed in this work suggest that anti-Muslim racism in the post-9/11 era is inextricably linked to the effects of the War on Terror in the North American context. Moreover, Islamophobia is also impacted by localized practices, policies, and nationalist debates. This book is a unique contribution to the field of anti-racism education as it examines systemic and institutionalized racism towards Muslims in Canadian secondary schools in the context of the War on Terror.
Here's a PDF file of a recently published article I wrote in Culture and Religion relating to Islamophobia and Quebec
Lawfare in Canada: The case of the Harper Government’s systemic policing of Muslims
‘Lawfare’ is a term describing how the law can be used as a weapon of war to pre-emptively punish and prosecute citizens in a hyper-militarized and nationalist context. The term has often been used to describe how fear of Muslims is manufactured in the US through shoddy terrorism cases involving agent provocateurs and the frequent use of entrapment of economically desperate and mentally ill Muslim men with radicalized political inclinations. These findings have been well documented in a recent report entitled “Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution.”
In the Canadian context the term is becoming equally applicable through a slew of recent Bills and proposed legislations by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. In its majority government tenure, the Conservative Party has legislated Bill-51, a law which broadens the mandate of Canadian security agencies and enhances their powers. Critics of the Bill argue that it gives CSIS broad and sweeping powers with little oversight in the name of national security and combating terrorism. The Tories have also introduced a new Citizenship Act which can strip away Canadian citizenship of dual citizens found guilty of terrorism related offences. The Citizen Act creates a two-tier system, where some can have their Canadian nationality contested and others having their ‘Canadianness’ taken for granted. This law becomes particularly obscure, as terrorist activities, from the perspective of the Conservatives, are seemingly limited to acts committed by Muslims or in the name of Islam.
For example, recently the Canadian Justice Minister, Peter McKay, claimed that an attempted Valentine’s Day shooting spree in February 2015 was clearly not a terrorist activity, because the attempted plotters did not have any "cultural affiliations". Mr. McKay did not specify 'Muslim' cultures. However, he made specific reference to groups like ISIS when discussing how such an action could have been classified as an act of terrorism. In relation to the new Citizenship Act, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander described how it was designed to confront the threat of ‘jihadi terrorism.’ In addition to laws that have already been passed, the senate is currently drawing up plans for an Imam Certification process to monitor and ensure that extremist ideology is not disseminated through Muslim religious institutions.
The Harper government is pandering into murky waters with all these Bills and proposed laws given its fairly open anti-Muslim bias and pro-Israeli political posturing. Many reputable scholars, academics, and human rights organizations have described the Israeli government’s aggression in operations Cast Lead and Protective Edge as manifestations of state-sponsored terrorism. Would material support of the IDF result in one losing their citizenship? Should pro-Israeli religious leaders encouraging members their congregation to join Israeli offensive operations require state policing and a certification process?
The threat of Islamic extremism is an overly exaggerated crisis in Canada that doesn’t warrant the resources, time, and taxpayer funds that have been wasted by the Harper government. There are approximately one million Muslims in Canada. Authorities estimate that up to 130 have been involved in terrorist activities abroad. This represents less than 0.02 percent of the Canadian Muslim population. If public safety and well-being was a genuine concern of the Conservative government, perhaps a more efficient use of resources could be invested on drug and alcohol abuse campaigns, which affect far more Canadian youth than the ‘Islamic jihadi threat.’
In contexts where ‘terrorism’ is defined by the cultural and religious affiliations of the perpetrators, as is becoming the case in Canada, the law can become a tool to discriminate and marginalize certain classes in society. With careless attempts to universalize consensus of the ‘dangerous Muslim threat,’ Harper’s politics of fear have created a state of exceptionalism resulting in Muslims becoming a de facto sub-citizen class. In short, laws that have been proposed and recently passed in Canada are becoming tools to pre-emptively punish Canadian Muslims through lawfare.
Democracy Now recently did an interview with two directors of the film '(T)error'. Here's an excerpt of the interview:
The full interview is available here
For my introductory post I wanted to state my teaching philosophy, as it shapes how, what, and why I teach.
Teaching Philosophy and Interests
My teaching philosophy is strongly grounded in social justice and critical thinking. As these values have been central to my teaching identity and praxis I have always strived to inculcate a classroom environment which nurtures respect, equality, and dialogue. This has fostered a close relationship between my teaching and research activities.
I have been an educator in formal settings for over eight years, having taught at both high school and university levels. In both settings, I am drawn to the challenge of communicating meaningful information in such a way that fosters curiosity and an eagerness to learn. I have always believed that teaching is an extremely rewarding profession. Through my personal experiences I have learned how there is so much potential for teachers to engage their students in transformative learning. Teachers have the potential to shape and influence the world through every student that they teach. Teachers can engage, inspire, and enlighten, yet at the same time possess the ability to misinform, discriminate against, and intimidate their students. As such, I approach my teaching assignments with great enthusiasm, while understanding the magnitude of responsibility that comes with the profession. I also view teaching as an opportunity to learn more, as I consider myself a lifelong learner. Through teaching and mentoring students I believe I am contributing to their intellectual growth, as well as gaining new perspectives on topics that can potentially inform my research.
As a secondary school teacher I have taught a wide range of courses including social studies, ethics and religious culture, media studies, and mathematics. At the university level, I have taught and lectured in courses for pre-service teachers in the Faculty of Education at McGill University since 2012. These courses were multidisciplinary courses which touched on a number of subjects including: education, society, critical media literacy, social justice, equity education, and critical pedagogy. Despite my wide range of teaching experiences, my objectives for student learning for all of my students involve acquiring skills and abilities to engage in critical thinking. Students who take my courses are encouraged to question dominant assumptions in societal discourses. I support my students, particularly pre-service teachers, to question their views, beliefs, and perceptions to try and make clear their biases to better understand themselves and their preconceived notions. This process is central to my teacher identity. I believe that in addition to teaching subjects, we teach ‘who we are’ to our students. The better a teacher understands him/herself the better s/he will be able to teach in a fair and equitable manner.
I have used various teaching strategies throughout my career. Most of these strategies are informed by a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. Hence, I view myself as a facilitator in the classroom and together with my students develop and construct understanding and knowledge of various issues. With every course that I have taught, I have developed my skills and knowledge as a teacher. This approach to teaching involves creating a comfortable and safe environment where students feel they are being respected. Creating a respectful space where students feel they are able to share their views enables them to exercise their individual voices. As differing views emerge in class discussions, through a facilitative approach, I am able to help guide the discussion. Engaging in this process has produced opportunities for me to discuss issues relating to social justice, racism, equity in education and student/teacher rights in a fruitful and transformative manner. In my teaching engagements I have come to recognize that students
learn in different ways and that traditional standards of learning and evaluation may disadvantage some students over others. Therefore, I offer my students differentiated options for evaluations when possible. This may involve producing original creative works, oral demonstrations, employing digital and social media, as well as more traditional forms of evaluation.
I measure my effectiveness as a teacher through intra and inter-personal processes. At an intra-personal level, I engage in the self-dialogical practice of reflexivity. This involves having an ongoing conversation with myself about what I am experiencing as I am experiencing it. This can take the form of journal entries, taking notes before, during, and after lessons, as well as just taking time to reflect upon my teaching activities in a quiet and relaxing space. I measure my effectiveness as a teacher through inter-personal activities by having discussions with my students and colleagues, as well as through formal course evaluations, which could involve both student and administrative feedback. Thus far in my teaching career, I have had a wealth of positive and constructive feedback from students and administrators, which have helped develop my abilities as an educator. Another process which I am hoping to implement is to videotape myself teaching a lesson. I believe this can help me to identify areas in which I can improve my delivery of lessons and become more aware of subtle mannerisms while teaching.
As an educator and lifelong learner I am always looking for ways to develop my skills, abilities, and praxis. I believe that this can be accomplished by finding new and challenging pedagogical engagements.