Law school professor is expert on Islamophobia

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Khaled A. Beydoun has returned to his native Detroit as an associate professor at Detroit Mercy Law School, teaching constitutional law, civil rights and critical race theory.
  
“Detroit is my home, the place I love most with the people that I love the most, so it made perfect sense to return home,” he said. “It’s also the hub for Arab and Muslim Americans, the focus of my research and writing, and it provided an ideal research alignment that no other city offered.”    

Beydoun is a critical race theorist, examining the legal construction of Arab and Muslim American identity, the foundational and modern development of Islamophobia and the intersection of national security policy, civil liberties and citizenship.

He also is a senior affiliated faculty member at the University of California-Berkeley Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project.

“The project allows me to work with the leading thinkers in the world on Islamophobia, which makes for an exceptional and vibrant intellectual community,” he said.    

“Islamophobia is intense in Dearborn and Detroit, and was well before 9/11, so the community here can branch and respond to Islamophobia in a fashion more advanced than other Muslim communities,” Beydoun added.     

As the fall semester gets under way, Beydoun is enjoying teaching his Detroit Mercy law students.

“I love the process of guiding students toward finding the right answer, or the answer that's right for them,” he said. “But more than anything, I have a passion for developing critical thinkers who are comfortable with complexity and navigating through law, policy and politics to find that the law is shaped by so many societal variables.”    

Beydoun, who before academia practiced in the areas of racial justice, criminal defense and international rule of law, started his career path with an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, in Arabic and Islamic studies, political science, and economics.

“I enjoyed the campus diversity and political vibrance — it allowed me to evolve as an activist and future activist,” he said.   

Beydoun earned his Juris Doctor from the UCLA School of Law, and LL.M in Islamic Law from the University of Toronto.

“The post-9/11 era was very troubling for Muslim Americans, and my research and writing began to center on dismantling myths and misrepresentations about Islam — I found it vital to develop a specialized knowledge in the area, and dedicated myself to doing so at UT Law,” he said.      

Beydoun’s scholarship has been featured in top law journals, including the Columbia Law Review, the California Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Harvard Journal of Racial & Ethnic Justice and the Illinois Law Review.   

In addition to his regular commentary in Al-Jazeera English, Beydoun’s insight has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Time, Salon, and ESPN. He’s also appeared on  and television and radio news programs aired by CNN, the BBC, Fox, NBC and ABC News. 

He has served as well as a consultant for the U.S. Census Bureau, the African American Policy Forum, and a number of colleges and universities.   

Beydoun is happy to back in the Motor City after a couple of years teaching at Barry University School of Law in Florida. 

“I love the grit, blue collar attitude and down-to-earth spirit of the Detroit people,” he said. “I'm ecstatic to be back home.”

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