Professor discusses discrimination in Europe

November 1, 2018

Brandeis students and faculty joined Professor Rajesh Sampath (HS/COMH/HSSP) for a lecture which analyzed different types of discrimination, including racism, xenophobia, islamophobia and antisemitism in Europe.

The lecture, “Dismantling Racism, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and Antisemitism in Europe: The Case of France,” began with an acknowledgement of the prominence of racism, xenophobia, islamophobia and antisemitism in the United States, highlighting the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh.

Sampath then transitioned to a discussion of the presence of these types of discrimination within Europe. As a scholar of European politics, he reflected that Europe is frequently overlooked in its engagement with racism, xenophobia, islamophobia and antisemitism.

Sampath pointed to two CNN articles, “The Global Right Surges as Donald Trump Enjoys Victory” and “Abuse of Women in European Parliament Widespread, Study Shows,” to highlight the prevalence of discrimination in Europe. He expressed concern with the “global rise of the right” evident in these articles.

To analyze the widespread influence of racism, xenophobia, islamophobia and antisemitism, Sampath pointed to French political theorist Emmanuel Todd’s article “Who is Charlie?” The article discusses the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, often considered islamophobic, by Muslim extremists.

Sampath then considered how the pressure for secularism and egalitarianism by the French government, emphasized by actions such as the Burqa Ban, has increased violence within the country, especially violent actions pertaining to those of different religious views. He reflected that one of the largest groups in France is Muslim immigrants and that the renunciation of religion by the government prevents French citizens from accepting the views of these immigrants.

Sampath also discussed the right to free speech and how it can contribute to discrimination. He stressed that, despite the positives of free speech, many use the concept as justification for acting or speaking in a discriminatory manner. Sampath concluded the lecture with an hour-long discussion. The discussion prompted topics such as antisemitism in the United States as well as a further analysis of the “Who is Charlie” article.

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