‘What Are Your Rights?’ discussion to highlight legal rights of Muslims



Aleksandra Ivanisevic

In light of the recent election and the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Muslim Americans and Islamophobia have been dense topics in the news. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa and Council on American-Islamic Rights (CAIR) will host a discussion Monday night in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union about the legal rights of Muslims.

Anyone who wishes to attend the event may join and contribute thoughts and comments to the discussion.   

“Discrimination against Muslims is unlawful and profoundly un-American; sadly, our [president] has articulated proposals which would do just that,” said Rita Bettis, legal director of the ACLU. “They are unconstitutional, and the ACLU is prepared to oppose them at every turn.”

During the panel, she hopes to “communicate some of why we believe the Constitution protects Muslims against those proposals coming into being.” Her goal is to provide Muslim Americans with basic “know-your-rights” information.

The discussion, “What Are Your Rights?,” will begin with opening remarks from Bettis and Corey Saylor, head of the CAIR Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia.

“What Are Your Rights?” will be monitored by Clark Wolf, professor of philosophy and political science at Iowa State. 

“While I expect certain topics to come up, my plan is to let the other speakers introduce issues they regard to be important,” Wolf said. “There’s so much to discuss, on this topic, that time is likely to be short no matter where we begin.”

Wolf feels that contemporary political rhetoric has Muslim Americans on the defensive. In his eyes, Trump’s remarks about restricting Muslim immigration and implementing a Muslim registry have been shocking to many.

Besides these remarks, Wolf has seen other issues: students being harassed for wearing headscarves and threats and protests surrounding the construction of mosques.

“For my entire career, I have been interested in legal and philosophical issues concerning the limits of speech, the scope of toleration and the protection of minority rights,” Wolf said. “This forum promises opportunities to address many of these central issues.” 

The conversation will begin at 7 p.m.