(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
In a world afflicted with various forms of racism and exclusion, universities are often seen as saviors from these practices through their role in educating generations and shaping awareness as part of their moral responsibility toward the societies that embrace them.
However, universities in the Arab region are often accused of being part of the problem rather than the solution because of their deviation from the political and social reality surrounding them and their administrations’ focus on what is going on on campus only, which may result in practicing some of the policies that increase the inequality they are supposed to address.
As universities are part of their societies and share their sufferings and problems, even if they lock their doors upon themselves, they are still vulnerable, in one way or another, to the occurrence of racist practices on their campuses or against their students.
This calls us to reconsider the required role of universities as educational institutions that are more involved in promoting the values of tolerance and harmony among the world’s population on humanitarian issues; in other words, supporting what is known as global citizenship.
The concept of global citizenship calls for the rejection of local, regional or national prejudices, so that a person becomes a global citizen belonging to all parts of the world and is busy finding solutions to its issues. This leads to the production of a harmonious global society dominated by mutual respect that works to serve humanity despite the differences in religion, race, color and ethnicity, and this contributes to transforming the world into a better place than we know now.
Humanity’s Common Fate
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons the world is supposed to learn from the Covid-19 pandemic is that the fate of humanity is one, and that its future is shared. The virus does not differentiate between its victims on the basis of color or gender, nor does it distinguish between a developed and a developing country, where the safety of everyone has become linked to everyone.
Unfortunately, awareness of such a lesson has been absent in the midst of international racism, as many governments have chosen to achieve their own interests at the expense of other peoples, and some of them may even exploit the fear of the pandemic to implement racist policies toward the most vulnerable segment of the societies, like refugees or foreign students as in the decision to deport foreign students, which the US administration retracted after raising the matter to the judiciary recently.