CAIR urges Georgetown University to probe student complaints of Islamophobia
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling on Georgetown University Law Center to look into student claims of Islamophobia by a law professor.
In a letter to the law school this week, CAIR Maryland director Zainab Chaudry wrote that they had "received meticulously detailed complaints of an alleged long-standing, documented pattern of behaviours, assignments and rhetoric that has mischaracterized or maligned Muslims and other groups, and has perpetuated harmful untruths and stereotypes".
The student's allegations against Professor Susan Deller Ross at Georgetown Law Center, who teaches women's human rights and international law, included providing legal documents advocating for hijab bans, describing the hijab as a device that subordinates women and asking students to advocate for the right-wing Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India.
The allegations against the professor also included encouraging Islamophobic themes in classroom discussions, having minority students act out stereotypical scenes of human rights abuses and using the law centre to portray Islam as not having human rights and oppressing women.
"Faculty have the right to critically analyse and criticize laws in any country - including Muslim majority nations," said Chaudry in CAIR's letter.
"However, I hope you will agree that crossing the line of reasonable discussion and debate, perpetuating harmful falsehoods, distorting the faith of 1.5 billion people, and creating a potentially traumatizing learning experience for any student is unacceptable and must be appropriately addressed," Chaudry said.
"Ignoring or being passive about these issues we know is a cost too great to bear," Georgetown University Law Center’s Muslim Law Students Association said in a statement.
"Professor Ross’s negative stereotypes and orientalist conceptions of Islam, Muslims, and African countries within the human rights framework perpetuates a dangerous trope of white saviourism that feeds into a culture of hate crimes against Muslims and historically harmful policies like the #MuslimBan and War on Terror," the statement said.
"At best, silence is neutrality. Without these necessary steps, however, it is violence. It is to say to Muslim law students: we see you, we hear you, but we will not stand with you while the crux of your identity is under attack."
This was not the first time a Georgetown University law professor has been in the spotlight for discriminatory remarks.
In March 2021, Georgetown Law professor Sandra Sellers, who believed she was on a private Zoom call, made racist comments to her colleague David Batson about Black students.
"I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks. Happens almost every semester," Sellers allegedly said. Both were fired by the university.