Archive for Sunday, September 12, 2004

KU conference focuses on Patriot Act, discrimination

September 12, 2004


Jeff Battocletti still remembers where he was and what he did on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists killed thousands by crashing hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

He also was aware of the passage a few weeks later by Congress of the Patriot Act, which gave new powers to the federal government for tracking potential terrorists.

But the Kansas University junior from St. Louis, said Saturday he hadn't thought much about 9-11 and its ramifications since then.

"It's kind of been completely out of sight," Battocletti said. "It's something you really don't think a lot about."

That changed, Saturday, as Battocletti sat in on an informal discussion about the Patriot Act, what it does and whether it is good or bad.

The Patriot Act discussion was one of several discussions conducted throughout the day in the Kansas Union as part of the nationwide September Project.

The project originated with the University of Washington's Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities. It is a collection of people, groups and organizations working to create a day of conversation on democracy, citizenship and patriotism.

The KU discussions, which focused on 9-11, were organized by a group of American studies graduate students. Other subjects included peace groups and political parties, the Bill of Rights and religious responses to 9-11.

Moussa Elbayoumy, director of the Islamic Society of Lawrence, talked about discrimination against Muslims since 9-11, by those who seem to think all Muslims are terrorists.

"People who discriminate against others because they are different don't know them," Elbayoumy said. "Treat me like I am and the way that I think."

Elbayoumy also questioned those who say the 9-11 terrorists attacked Americans because they hate America's freedoms. If that was the case, he said, the Statue of Liberty would have been a target.

"They targeted a commercial center and the source of military power," Elbayoumy said.

More than 50 people attended the discussions. Afterward, graduate students talked about the need to get together with friends and colleagues to hold such discussions and to question everything.

"Next year hopefully we can work more with the community," said Julia GoodFox, a doctoral student in American Studies.

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