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Muslim scholar to speak about Islamic identity

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Nov. 16, 2010 at 5:16 a.m.

Riem Spielhaus

IF YOU GOWHAT: Riem Spielhaus, a Denmark-based Muslim scholar will speak about Muslim identity. Spielhaus served as adviser for the commissioner for migration, refugees and integration of the German Federal Government.

WHEN: 1 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Alcorn Auditorium at University of Houston-Victoria, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.,

After making a couple of stops at Yale and Harvard universities, Riem Spielhaus, a Denmark-based Muslim scholar, will speak at the University of Houston-Victoria to talk about identity for those of her faith.

"I would say media and politics are really participating in producing the Muslim communities today," she said.

Spielhaus' work focuses on Muslims in Germany, but she believes that Muslims have experienced stereotyping similar to that of Mexican immigrants in the United States.

"They came as workers, they came as unskilled people. This is the same," she said, about both groups.

Her discussion will focus on those similarities as well as Muslim identity in the United States.

After 9/11, she said, the question of Muslim identity became even more important.

"To be a Muslim these days, you have a contested identity," she said. "You have to ask yourself, are you Muslim, or are you not and what kind of Muslim are you because of the terrorism that's around and the security issues around that."

Spielhaus said the general perception of Muslims or immigrants - mostly formed by media or government - often doesn't represent the individuals in the group and identity can become complex when those individuals start to conform to that idea.

"I think that a society needs to be conscious about these processes because there is a danger in excluding people on the ground of identity or characteristics that are actually not really shared by everybody," she said.

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