Award-winning scholar Ian Buruma will deliver a free lecture on the interplay between radical religion and politics tonight at 8 p.m. in Campbell Hall.
A prominent author and journalist, Buruma has a widely multicultural academic background and employs a global outlook to issues of religion and politics. His lecture will focus on issues including Muslim immigration, radicalism and religion.
According to Buruma, he will analyze whether or not radical Islam poses an actual existential threat to Europe or whether concern is due to misplaced panic.
“[My lecture] is about why I think people have reacted so hysterically [to radical Islam and Muslim immigration] and that there are many different problems posed by immigration that are the same posed everywhere — like the development of poor neighborhoods with relatively high crime rates,” Buruma said.
Additionally, Buruma said, globalization and its creation of integrated forms of communication technologies, economics, weaponry and culture can explain how violence in the Middle East has carried over to Europe and other countries.
“The problem is that young people [in the Muslim world] — when they’re vulnerable and don’t know their place yet in the world — are vulnerable to extreme religious or political movements which started in the Middle East as a response to secular police states,” Buruma said. “They feel rejected or feel they need to sacrifice themselves for a higher cause.”
Another topic of his lecture will focus on the increased attention paid to Islamic extremism and Muslim immigration by the western world since 9/11. Buruma said he will talk about the recent arrest of Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad as the suspected perpetrator of a recent attempted car-bombing in New York City’s Times Square to exemplify this.
Student opinion about Buruma’s visit to campus is mixed. Some argue that his presentation could reinforce negative stereotypes held about Muslims and Islam, while others like Daniel Sanchez, a fourth-year global studies major, said Buruma’s talk will provide insight into a hotly-debated issue.
According to Sanchez, Buruma is a credible source and the event therefore serves as an educational opportunity.
“From what I’ve heard about him, I feel like he knows what he’s talking about,” Sanchez said. “He seems really informed, but it’s just hard sometimes to keep your own opinions out of it when you’re speaking. I think it’ll definitely be interesting though to hear what he has to say.”
Ultimately, Buruma said, he hopes his lecture will shed light on Western attitudes about the Muslim world and radical Islam.
“The lecture is a way to promote greater understanding of the problems and this is a way for oneself to help think through certain issues and to help others think about them too,” Buruma said.