‘Gandhi’ lecture sparks outcry

A talk by USF religious studies professor Darrell Fasching last month comparing and contrasting Osama bin Laden and Mohandas Gandhi sparked an outcry from students.

Alok Buch, president of the Students of India Association, said he and the members of his organization were offended and angered by some of the statements Fasching made about Gandhi.

“In the first place,” Buch said, “comparing Mahatma G. to bin Laden was not appropriate.”

Buch said Fasching’s comment that both bin Laden and Gandhi used “guerilla warfare against colonialism and Western domination” was particularly offensive.

“If you look at history, guerilla warfare has always been used in surprise attacks,” Buch said.

However, Fasching said he didn’t intend to leave people with the impression that Gandhi advocated violence.

On the contrary, Fasching said Gandhi practiced “non-violent guerilla warfare,” which uses “small organizational cells who will incite actions on a random and unexpected basis.”

“Gandhi used these tactics to launch his protests,” Fasching said.

Buch also said he took exception to Fasching’s statement that “bin Laden is a dark emulator of Gandhi.”

“We understand he has a right to express his views,” Buch said, but “that is uneasy for us to digest.”

According to Fasching, his discussion, part of USF’s Globalization and Security Symposium held Sept. 11, was meant to illustrate the role of religion in global politics, and not to suggest that bin Laden and Gandhi are one and the same.

“Religion is an important force in the world, and it’s not going to go away,” Fasching said. “It can be used for good or evil. Gandhi used it for good; bin Laden used it for evil.”

Fasching said he hopes those who object to his comments will read the full transcript of his lecture. He said it should be available on the International Affairs Department’s Web site under the Globalization Research Center heading in a week.