BERKELEY (KPIX 5) – Students at UC Berkeley have signed a petition asking the university to cancel an invitation to let talk show host and comedian Bill Maher speak, following comments he recently made about Islam.
Marium Navid, a UC Berkeley student senator, says it’s hard enough being Muslim.
“They look at a Muslim person and they ask, ‘So do you believe in terrorism?’ People have asked me that, I mean I’ve had that experience a few weeks ago on Telegraph,” Navid told KPIX 5. “Obviously, the Muslim community has learned to laugh it off, but this is bigotry.”
But what Navid does not find funny are remarks made by Maher during a recent episode of his HBO talk show.
Maher, an atheist, famously criticizes all religions. But some believe he went too far when he insisted a majority of Muslims believe in the violence associated with the extremists in the religion.
“We’re not making it up that in the Muslim world it is mainstream belief,” Maher said.
Navid started a Change.org petition calling on the university to stop Maher from giving the December graduation speech. As of late Monday night, more than 2,100 have signed the petition.
“Someone who has made these types of remarks, these generalizations, is being invited to speak. Not in a dialogue, not in a debate, but in an elevated position. Where he’s being given the honor, basically, of being the commencement speaker,” Navid said. “We would like him to not come and speak at a commencement ceremony.”
Berkeley is celebrating 50 years since the start of the Free Speech Movement. When asked about freedom of speech, Navid said, “This is freedom of speech. The First Amendment gives you the right to address your concerns, to express your opinions. But that First Amendment doesn’t say you get to sit on a pedestal and give a commencement speech.”
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