*This is an excerpt from a UF Prism magazine article, published by the Honors College at the University of Florida.
With its charming galleries, wide archways, and gorgeous gardens, the historic Thomas Center is one of Gainesville’s gems. On January 20, it transformed into a local forum for speaking out on one of the issues haunting our country: the spread of Islamophobia.
We, Amna Qureshi and Gloria Li, University of Florida freshmen, decided to attend this forum and interview some of the other attendees. The keynote speaker began the event by presenting on the current state of Islamophobia in the United States. Dr. Hatem Bazian, a Berkeley professor in Islamic Studies and Philosophy who flew in to give his talk, told us that his take-home message was very simple. He said, “It is our responsibility to take back civil society, and make a civil society that works for everyone. Because racism negates our ability to build a better society.”