USC’s diversity highlighted by faults in Bahrain


As my family sat in anticipation, awaiting their daughter and sister’s name to be called, they were approached by a young Middle Eastern man. He asked if his mother could sit with my family.

Noticing my brothers’ uncertainty, the gentleman in his black robe and class of 2011 sash assured them, “We are from Iran. But don’t worry, we are not terrorists.”

With a quick laugh and a smile, my family made room for his mother. USC’s 128th commencement ceremony was a day of celebration, a day where people of different backgrounds came together to support the efforts of their diligent children, a feeling we should all embrace.

Jovanna Tosello | Summer Trojan

Sarrah Shahawy, president of the USC Interfaith Council and valedictorian, mentioned in her speech that USC is one of the most religiously diverse campuses nationwide.

We have learned to accept and to love others of differing religions and cultures and to add them to the melting pot that is USC. As diversity grows in California, the religious debate heightens in the region where the woman my family sat with at graduation came from.

As my father spent the last three days in Bahrain for business, he frequently updated my family on his travels and told me of his experiences.

He told us a man he became acquainted with on the street said the hot-button issue in Bahrain at the moment is not concern for a potential revolutionist uprising, rather the uncertainty of Iran’s regional motives.

The Bahraini people fear, as do most others in Persian Gulf states, Iran’s growing strength, nuclear plans, allegiance to terrorist organizations and differences in Islam ideology.

In the Carnegie Papers, Marina Ottaway, an expert in the Middle East, said, “Iran is a predominantly [Shiite] country ruled by [Shiite] clerics in a region that is predominantly Sunni and governed by Sunni rulers.”

This is a reality that causes great tension among Muslims in the gulf. But Iranian leaders spread worry even past the gulf; the concern for national security hits the entirety of the Middle East. For example, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, along with King Abdullah II of Jordan, has raised alarm over the dominance of Shiism.

The king has warned of an emerging “[Shiite] crescent,” and Mubarak has declared that the Arab-Shiites are more loyal to Iran than to their own states. In spite of this, perhaps in the case of Bahrain, a country ruled by the Sunni majority, the minority of Shiites is resentful of its officials because they face widespread discrimination from the majority.

Unfortunately, we are not blind to the fact that this religious warfare exists within the United States. Students at USC live among Sunni and Shiite Muslims in addition to so many other religions and their sects.

Whether one person is right or wrong should no longer be a question of acceptance and security. This might be an idealistic point of view, but this is the hope I believe our graduates hold, that we can somehow find a way to one day live together in harmony, as we did on the day of graduation.

This story is a thank you to my university; it’s a thank you for the security, receptiveness and universal acceptance the Trojan Family has afforded us. This is the true beauty of America, a beauty that we can celebrate at a university graduation and realize the dissimilarity of values no longer matter while love, approbation and joy become precedent.

 

Anne Easton is a senior majoring in philosophy, politics, and law. Her column “Beyond Figueroa” runs Wednesdays.

 

 

 

  • Zahraa

    let me tell you this story about Bahrain Shiites.. back at the 70s they were asked if they wanted to be part of Iran, they refused. Shiites loyalty is to Bahrain and will remain to be. even the current Bahrain foreign minister said it in a press conference that the loyalty of Bahrain Shiites is to Bahrain
    and in fact Shiites are the majority in Bahrain you can ask anyone and they will tell you this, even the international media is reporting that Bahrain Shiites are the majority in the country, the percentage is 60-70% of the population
    and if this is about the revolution that started in 14th February then you should know this: there was Sunnis along with Shiites in the protests, because they all wanted more freedom and more rights.

    • Arafat

      Zahraa, just because they participated in aportest does NOT mean they wanted more freedom and more rights.

      Need I remind you of the Tehran protests of 1979 when people took to the streets demanding the Shah’s ouster? This led to Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power and this led to far fewer rights and freedoms for the people of Iran.

      Since Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power the number of Zoroastrians, gays, Christians, Sunnis, Bahais killed has increased many fold and the freedoms and rights of people have only been further reduced such that today Iran is one of the MOST repressive countries in the world.

      Meanwhile in Egypt the majority of the protestors want the Muslim Brotherhood to lead the country in the future, and if this comes true (and it almost certainly will) then kiss the few freedoms Egyptians currently enjoy good-bye; and even worse kiss what remains of the ancient Coptic Christian community good-bye too.

  • Arafat

    A commentor or two mentioned the “Arab Spring” a misleading term for the revolutions happening in the Middle East and North Africa. What is really happening has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with raw power plays.

    In Egypt the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood is winning the day. This is little different than what Happened in Iran in 1979 when the dicatator the Shah of Iran was unceremoniously kicked out and was replaced by Khomeini. And in the other countries any movement toward “democracy” are all but invisible. It’s the Islamists carrying the day in Libya as well.

  • Arafat

    Could someone explain for me why Muslims kill (and all one need do is read the papers to know this is TRUE) anybody and everybody?

    In Thailand they are killing Buddhists on a regular basis.

    In Pakistan, Bangladesh and India they kill Hindus on a regular basis.

    In Iraq, Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, and in many other countries they kill Christian on a regular basis.

    Throughout the Muslim world women are killed on a regular basis.

    Throughout the Muslim world homosexuals are killed on a regular basis.

    Zoroastrians, Black Africans, Assyrians, Copts, Chaldeans, athiests, apostates are also killed on a regular basis.

    Jews they’ll kill without remorse if they can get their hands on them.

    And then the icing on the cake is how Muslims kill one another apparently without a second thought. Sunnis killing Shi’ites in Bahrain. Sunnis killing Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia, Shi’ites killing Sunnis in Iraq and elsewhere.

    I don’t get it, Anne, why is life seemingly so cheap over there?

  • Silverfox

    Not one of us can ever “know it all”, but this Anne is putting forth a snippet of the whole for us to consider. Those who have something to say might remember that if you can’t be positive and constructive in your criticism, you are really not helping the debate. As young people enter the “great conversation of ideas” that has been going on for centuries, let us be considerate of one another, even as if we were sitting next to them at the graduation. Be a neighbor. Everything really important we learned in Kindergarten.

  • V_Koshy

    @alanmirs….@buggers…. terrorizing a girl are you? Copying & pasting the same silly comments. Typical anarchists or their supporters from Bahrain that do not understand another opinion.

    Anne, you are right. You are trying to promote love and co-existence while these guys do not understand that. To them the pro-democracy movement was just a cover – for dominance of their sect and the resurgence of Iran. Nor do these guys understand democracy.

    Mubarak quoted that the Shia can never be trusted and that their loyalties will always be with their parent country Iran. Research further and you will see that Bahrain of 525,000 people are equally split between the Sunni & Shia. There are also indigenous Jew & Christian population though. Did you know that the Ambassador of Bahrain to the US is a Jew?

    A another point to note is that Bahrain has an expatriate population of 600,000+ who outnumber the Bahrainis put together. The anarchists hate the expatriates to the core and have already hacked 6 people to death during the course of their anarchist revolution.

    Last night (05/17/11) they ran over 9 policemen, 4 are serious and almost dead.

    Anne, please do not loose hope. Along with the actual learning process keep up your spirit and your goodness. There is still hope for the world with the likes of you. God Bless you.

  • Lizardo

    Hey Anne! I don’t think u should thank you university as obviously u learned nothing! please try to do a little research before you start writing! Did the University reply to this letter? they should, it is embarrassing!

  • Perhaps you didn’t get the hype about the Arab Spring but just in case you didn’t…

    1. The dictator, Mubarak, has fallen because he was a dictator and his views and opinions didn’t represent his country (his views weren’t trusted by Egyptians, why are you quoting them?)
    2. Jordan’s absolute Monarch has shuffled his Cabinet following massive protests (why are you quoting him on regional affairs?)
    3. Bahrain is a Shiite majority ruled by a Sunni minority. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, the Bahraini army and security forces are entirely imported and so they do not flip like the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions
    4. The Bahraini people fear getting fired from state and private jobs, tortured, and arrested at 3 am and being put on trial in a sham military court for protesting…not Iran’s regional and sectarian ambitions.

    If you’re going to write a “thank you story” to your university that gave you a degree in politics…please avoid embarrassing them by demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of middle

  • Buggles

    Perhaps you didn’t get the hype about the Arab Spring but just in case you didn’t…

    1. The dictator, Mubarak, has fallen because he was a dictator and his views and opinions didn’t represent his country (his views weren’t trusted by Egyptians, why are you quoting them?)
    2. Jordan’s absolute Monarch has shuffled his Cabinet following massive protests (why are you quoting him on regional affairs?)
    3. Bahrain is a Shiite majority ruled by a Sunni minority. Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, the Bahraini army and security forces are entirely imported and so they do not flip like the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions
    4. The Bahraini people fear getting fired from state and private jobs, tortured, and arrested at 3 am and being put on trial in a sham military court for protesting…not Iran’s regional and sectarian ambitions.

    If you’re going to write a “thank you story” to your university that gave you a degree in politics…please avoid embarrassing them by demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of middle eastern politics.