The Muslim Student Association (MSA) held an open forum on Tuesday night discussing the topic of suicide bombings. The forum featured guest speakers Professor Patrick Boleyn-Fitzgerald, professor of philosophy, W. Flagg Miller, lecturer in anthropology, and Claudena Skran, professor of government. Visiting instructor Ahmed Afzaal from the Religious Studies department was scheduled to speak, but he was delayed en route to Appleton.The MSA is co-directed by presidents Saleh Hijazi and Changez Ali, who are attempting to “revive the organization to help communicate to the people what is going on in the Mideast,” according to Hijazi. The topic was addressed from many angles, abstractly as well as personally.
Boleyn-Fitzgerald discussed the different forms of suicide bombing throughout history, including Japanese kamikaze pilots, self-immolation in the post-Vietnam War era, and the current forms in which suicide bombings are taking place in the Middle East. Boleyn-Fitzgerald also discussed the elements of “Just War Theory” and the different motivations behind such violent acts.
Miller approached the issue from a cultural perspective. Miller, who has worked and spent time in the Middle East, discussed the role of martyrdom in Muslim culture and faith. He also pointed out popular misconceptions Americans have about Muslim views on suicide bombings and the people commonly involved in such acts, as well as the habit of considering all suicide bombings to be the same and therefore categorizing them as the same.
Skran, who hosted the forum, provided insight into Chechnya and the suicide bombings taking place there. Skran also commented on American misconceptions of suicide bombings and pointed out several areas where misinformation has led to misunderstanding.
The forum was then opened up for questions and comments. Several inquiries were made concerning the possibility of suicide bombings in America, the role and motivation of women as suicide bombers, and the effectiveness of such acts of violence.