Leading Experts to Gather in Philadelphia for National Conference on Islam and the West

Contact: Cindy L. Jobbins, 215.575.4812


04/21/2006 - The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, one of the largest public policy forums in the United States, will host “Islam and the West” on Monday, May 1, at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue. The news headlines show the growing influences of Islam: Hamas' victory in Palestinian elections; Iran's bid for nuclear weapons; worldwide protests against a cartoon depiction of the Prophet; Al Qaeda's enduring threat; and America's venture in Iraq. For better or for worse, the relationship between Islam and the United States and its traditional allies will be a defining feature of the 21st Century. A heightened awareness of radical Islam, coupled with the growth around the globe of Muslim populations through migration and demographic shifts, no longer allows "business as usual" approach to the Islamic world.

The goal of this nonpartisan program, co-sponosored by The Pew Charitable Trusts and Glenmede, is to acquaint Americans with U.S. foreign policies and Western interests in the Middle East; the dilemmas faced by non-Muslim states as their indigenous Muslim populations increase in size and influence; and how the United States can work with representatives of the Islamic world through diplomacy, citizen exchange, and commercial relations.

The conference is being held on the occasion of the 90th birthday of Professor Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Middle East historians, and currently Princeton University's Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies. Information on the speakers is below. Please contact the World Affairs Council at 215.561.4700 or by e-mail at info@wacphila.org to obtain a full conference schedule and ticket information. To register online, visit the World Affairs Council Web site.

Speakers include:

Akbar Ahmed
Dr. Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC. Labeled "the world's leading authority on contemporary Islam" by the BBC, he has discussed Islamic issues with leaders including President George W. Bush and Prince Charles. Dr. Ahmed is the author of numerous books, films and documentaries, and is a regular guest on CNN, CBC, and the BBC. Currently Dr. Ahmed is the principal investigator of "Islam in the Age of Globalization", a project supported by The Brookings Institution, American University and The Pew Research Center.

Fouad Ajami
Dr. Fouad Ajami is Majid Khadduri Professor and Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University. The recipient of the MacArthur Prize Fellowship, he has a deep knowledge of the Middle East, Islam, and international relations. A frequent writer on the Middle East, Professor Ajami's articles have appeared in The New York Times Review of Books and Foreign Affairs. His most recent book is The Dream Palace of the Arabs.

The Honorable Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a member of Dutch Parliament representing the Liberal Party for Freedom and Democracy. Of Somali origin, Hirsi Ali fled to the Netherlands in 1992. She was elected to the Dutch Parliament, and is an advocate for the integration and emancipation of Muslim women. She worked with Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh to produce the film Submission about the oppression of Muslim women. Tempers among Muslims living in The Netherlands flared after the airing of the film and van Gogh was assassinated in late 2005. Her book collection of essays, The Caged Virgin, will be published in the United States this year.

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Senator Joe Biden, Jr., Democrat of Delaware, has served as either Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since 1997. A possible candidate for president in 2008, he supports U.S. goals of achieving a stable, representative Iraq, but has often been critical of the policies pursued by the Bush Administration. Senator Biden has been a major figure in national politics for nearly 30 years. In addition to his leadership on foreign policy, Senator Biden has been instrumental in crafting crime legislation as a member and former chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Francis Fukayama
Professor Francis Fukuyama is Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and director of the International Development program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University. He is also chairman of the editorial board of a new magazine, The American Interest. Dr. Fukuyama has written widely on political and economic development. His book, The End of History and the Last Man, has appeared in twenty foreign editions. His most recent book, America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy will be published in 2006.

Josef Joffe
Dr. Josef Joffe is publisher-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit and a contributing editor of Time International. He is a prolific writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Commentary, and the New Republic, and a frequent media commentator. Dr. Joffe has taught at universities in both the United States and Europe, including the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and the University of Munich. He is the author of numerous books on international relations, including The Future of International Politics: The Great Powers (1998).

The Honorable Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, founded the international consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, after leaving government service in 1977. Throughout his career as a college professor and serving in notable government positions, Dr. Kissinger has written many books and articles on United States foreign policy, international affairs, and diplomatic history. Among the awards he has received are the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Woodrow Wilson Prize, and the American Institute for Public Service Award, and the Hope Award for International Understanding.

Walter Russell Mead
Walter Russell Mead is the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He is the award-winning author of Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World and an expert on U.S. foreign policy; international political economy, and religion and foreign policy. Mr. Mead serves as Project director of religion and foreign policy at the Pew Forum. The author of numerous articles, his most recent on terrorism is "Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk."

Judy Woodruff
The former host of CNN's Inside Politics, Judy Woodruff is now one of the top journalists at the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). Her tested experience and toughminded journalistic acumen help audiences make political sense of the politically insensible. Ms. Woodruff has decades of broadcast experience, including coverage of eight presidential elections from Jimmy Carter through George W. Bush. A former White House correspondent, award-winning journalist and prime-time anchor, Woodruff is one of the most well-known journalists in the United States. She is the author of This is Judy Woodruff at the White House.

Professor Bernard Lewis
For more than 60 years, Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Middle East historians, has interpreted the world of Islam to the West. Born and raised in London, he studied at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, where he earned a Ph.D. in the History of Islam. After military service in World War II, he taught at the University of London until 1974 and at Princeton University until 1986. He is currently Princeton's Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies. Professor Lewis has drawn on primary sources in Arabic, Aramaic, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Persian, and Turkish to produce more than three dozen books, including The Arabs in History and the post-9/11 international best-sellers What Went Wrong? and Crisis in Islam. Professor Lewis has performed the invaluable service of placing current events in the context of history. For many years he was the only European scholar permitted access to the archives of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. His work is distinguished by its attention to the lives of ordinary people, as well as kings and rulers. Professor Lewis was among the first to study issues of race, slavery, class and the status of women in Middle Eastern history. In addition to his historical studies, he has published translations of classical Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Hebrew poetry. With the events of recent years creating an unprecedented demand in the West for knowledge of the Islamic East, Professor Lewis has made an important and unique contribution.

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