Berkeley Students Say No To ‘Bigot’ Bill Maher As Commencement Speaker

In this photo provided by HBO, Bill Maher hosts the season premiere of "Real Time with Bill Maher" Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/HBO, Janet Van Ham)
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Bill Maher may be done talking about his criticism of Islam, but students at the University of California, Berkeley are not.

A petition to remove Maher as the university’s December commencement speaker had gathered 2,246 signatures on as of Tuesday morning.

“Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for,” the petition reads. “In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment. Bill Maher’s public statements on various religions and cultures are offensive and his dangerous rhetoric has found its way into our campus communities.”

Maher’s views on Islam drew increased scrutiny after the HBO host got into a heated debate with actor Ben Affleck earlier this month. His critical remarks were condemned by religious scholar Reza Aslan, among others, and praised by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.

Berkeley student government representative Marium Navid, a Muslim who is one of the petition’s authors, argued that the university was legitimizing Maher’s critical view of the religion by naming him as commencement speaker.

“People say he has the right to freedom of speech, and I agree with that,” she told the San Jose Mercury News. ” … The problem is that when you bring him to the university, you’re pretty much putting him into a privileged position. You’re raising his voice.”

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