The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom

Miranda Schonbrun

The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom

February 16, 2022 / 5:00 pm / Add to Google

This hybrid event will be held in person at Social Science Matrix, 820 Social Sciences Building, on the UC Berkeley campus. Physical attendance will be limited. The event will also be available online via Zoom. Registration is required here

Sahar Aziz, Professor of Law and Chancellor’s Social Justice Scholar Rutgers University Law School

Why does a country with religious liberty enmeshed in its legal and social structures produce such overt prejudice and discrimination against Muslims? Sahar Aziz’s groundbreaking book demonstrates how race and religion intersect to create what she calls the Racial Muslim. Comparing discrimination against immigrant Muslims with the prejudicial treatment of Jews, Catholics, Mormons, and African American Muslims during the twentieth century, Aziz explores the gap between America’s aspiration for and fulfillment of religious freedom. With America’s demographics rapidly changing from a majority white Protestant nation to a multiracial, multi religious society, this book is an indispensable read for understanding how our past continues to shape our present—to the detriment of our nation’s future.

Sahar Aziz is Professor of Law, Chancellor’s Social Justice Scholar, and Middle East and Legal Studies Scholar at Rutgers University Law School. Professor Aziz’s scholarship adopts an interdisciplinary approach to examine intersections of national security, race, and civil rights with a focus on the adverse impact of national security laws and policies on racial, ethnic, and religious minorities in the US. Her research also investigates the relationship between authoritarianism, terrorism, and rule of law in the Middle East. She is the founding director of the interdisciplinary Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights ( and a faculty affiliate of the African American Studies Department at Rutgers University-Newark. Professor Aziz serves on the Rutgers-Newark Chancellor’s Commission on Diversity and Transformation as well as the editorial board of the Arab Law Quarterly and the International Journal of Middle East Studies. Professor Aziz teaches courses on national security, critical race theory, Islamophobia, evidence, torts, and Middle East law.

Professor Aziz is the recipient of numerous awards including a Soros Equality Fellowship (2021), A New America Middle Eastern and North African American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leader (2020), the Research Making an Impact Award by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (2017), the Derrick Bell Award from the American Association of Law Schools Minority Section (2015), and an Emerging Scholar by Diverse Issues in Higher Education (2015). She serves on the board of directors of ReThink Media, the Project on Democracy in the Middle East (POMED), and Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN). 

Professor Aziz has published over thirty academic articles and book chapters. Her articles are published in the Harvard National Security Journal, Washington and Lee Law Review, Nebraska Law Review, George Washington International Law Review, Penn State Law Review, and the Texas Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Journal. Her book The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom (2021) examines how religious bigotry racializes immigrant Muslims through a historical and comparative approach. 

Professor Aziz’s commentary has appeared in the New York Times,, Carnegie Endowment’s Sada Journal, Middle East Institute,, World Politics Review, Houston Chronicle, Austin Statesmen, The Guardian, and Christian Science Monitor.  She is a frequent public speaker and has appeared on CNN, BBC World, PBS, CSPAN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Al Jazeera English. She is an editor of the Race and the Law Profs blog. She previously served on the board of the ACLU of Texas and as a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution – Doha. 

Prior to joining legal academia, Professor Aziz served as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the US Department of Homeland Security where she worked on law and policy at the intersection of national security and civil liberties. Professor Aziz began her legal career as a litigation associate for WilmerHale after which she was an associate at Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLP in Washington, DC where she litigated Title VII class actions on behalf of plaintiffs.

Presented by the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion with generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation, and cosponsored by the Center for Race and Gender, Center on Race, Sexuality and Culture, and Othering and Belonging Institute