Dear UCLA Students, Faculty and Staff, You don't need me to tell you that the Middle East and Islam have become important fields of study in the 21st century. Open any newspaper, go to any bookstore, turn on any TV news channel and you will find headlines that reflect America's and the world's increasing engagement with Islam. The ugly rhetoric surrounding the recent Manhattan mosque controversy gives clear evidence of the fact that, despite Islam's frequent appearance in the public eye, many Americans remain startlingly ignorant and fearful about this multi-faceted and fascinating Abrahamic faith. Clearly, there is a need for an educated and balanced discussion about Islam in America and throughout the world. UCLA, one of the world's leading universities, has been an important part of informing the world about the history, traditions, evolution and political implications of Islam in the 21st century. For SIX DECADES(!) UCLA's Islamic Studies MA program has brought together world-renowned faculty and motivated, compassionate students who work together to moderate a sometimes radicalized debate about Islam in the American public eye. This year, the UCLA Islamic Studies MA program has been closed to new applicants for the 2011-2012 cycle. How can a public university reasonably justify dismembering an Islamic studies program at this crucial time in American-Islamic relations? Shouldn't UCLA be opening the gates as wide as possible for a program as timely and necessary as Islamic Studies? If you believe, as I do, that UCLA owes its students, faculty, and potential students the opportunity to educate themselves and their communities about Islam, I urge you to sign this petition for the reinstatement of the Islamic Studies MA at UCLA. The official UCLA motto is "Let There Be Light." So I urge you to help the UCLA community use our voices and our actions to let the light shine on for the UCLA Islamic Studies MA program!
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