AUSTIN, Texas — The following professors with expertise on the Middle East, terrorism and domestic politics are available to talk about the killing of Osama bin Laden and its implications for the region, national security and the Obama administration.
by Gadi Adelman
Family Security Matters
February 14, 2011
During a lecture Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of ACT! For America explained that 80 percent of Arabic speaking people in the U.S. are not Muslim. The reason; when Islam and the Caliphate “conquered minorities they forced the people to speak the Arabic language because the easiest way to strip a culture from its heritage is change the language.”
Source: The Stanford Daily, 25/01/2011
Years after American interest in the Middle East began to experience a dramatic resurgence with the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, Stanford is still racing to create a Middle Eastern studies program comparable to those of its peer institutions.
The University does not offer a degree-granting program in Middle Eastern studies. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and UC-Berkeley all do.
“About two years ago we had an external review–a team from Princeton, Indiana and Chicago–come in and lay out a road map for developing our program in this area,” said Richard Saller, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences.
Two major improvements were the creation of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies in 2005 and 2007, respectively. The University also recently launched a certificate program in Iranian studies and is in the process of hiring a second Middle East historian. Challenges have precluded further expansion, however.
“The truth is we have not added the faculty as quickly as we’d hoped because the recession really put a break on fundraising, and we need to raise additional funds in order to fund additional faculty positions,” Saller said.
In order to “put a strong foundation” under a degree-granting Middle Eastern studies program, the University would require an eight-figure gift, Saller added.
This race to catch up with the programs offered by peer institutions raises the question: why did Stanford not develop its Middle Eastern studies program when others did so?
Obama Administration Will Take Steps To Facilitate The Free Exchange Of Ideas Across Borders, State Department Says
Washington – The Obama administration will take new steps to address the “ideological exclusion” of scholars and others from the UnitedStates on the basis of their political views, according to a State Department letter made public today by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), PEN American Center and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The State Department sent the letter to a coalition of human rights and civil liberties groups after they expressed their appreciation (.pdf) for Secretary Clinton’s decision last year to end the ideological exclusion from the U.S. of prominent scholars Adam Habib and Tariq Ramadan.
In its letter, the State Department acknowledges the importance of “promoting a global marketplace of ideas.” It specifically indicates that, in deciding whether to grant visas, the State Department will give “significant and sympathetic weight” to those seeking to enter the U.S. to fulfill speaking engagements, attend conferences, accept teaching positions, “or for similar expressive or educational activities.”
The following can be attributed to Cary Nelson, President of AAUP:
“All Americans can be gratified that the State Department has reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to the global marketplace of ideas and to the free exchange of opinion and analysis among American scholars and visitors from abroad.”
The following can be attributed to Larry Siems, Director of Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center:
“We welcome the State Department’s stated commitment to holding the door open to a wide range of voices and views from around the world, and are very pleased to see that the steps Secretary Clinton took to end the bans on Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib are part of a fresh approach and larger policy. This letter brings good news for our international colleagues, many of whom have been discouraged from visiting the United States in recent years, and great news for us and for our right as Americans to meet and share and debate ideas with them in person.”
The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:
“This is an encouraging and important letter, and we’re hopeful that it signals a renewed commitment on the part of the State Department to facilitating and expanding the free exchange of ideas across international borders. As the letter recognizes, our democracy can thrive only if our political debate is informed by a diversity of ideas and viewpoints. No democracy has ever made itself stronger by shutting its ears to ideas that are provocative or politically unpopular. We commend the State Department for this letter and look forward to seeing these policies implemented.”
Richard W. Bulliet
Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review 8 (2009), 7–18
A haunting and powerful image in the Qur’an depicts the people who, on the day of judgment, perch on the dividing barrier between heaven and hell and engage in a conversation with the inhabitants of both worlds (Qur’an 7: 46–49). The portrayal occurs only once in the Qur’an and is vague about the ultimate fate of these “people of the edge,” but they are given a generally sympathetic portrayal, and the implication is that they will end up on the safer side of the barrier.
We just published a post by Andreas Moser a few days ago, questioning UNESCO’s decision to award the hosting of the 2010 World Philosophy Congress to Iran. Today, UNESCO announced its decision to back off Philosophy Day in Iran.
The news piece in New York Times goes:
“The United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization decided Tuesday to pull the plug on another embarrassment to its reputation, dissociating itself from this year’s celebration of philosophy, to be held in Iran in less than two weeks.
Unesco has been celebrating World Philosophy Day since 2002, but an agreement made quietly in 2008 to host this year’s event in Iran became extremely controversial, given Iran’s record of repression and censorship after disputed elections in 2009. Academics vowed to boycott this year’s event, scheduled for Nov. 21 to 23, and European nations, joined by the United States, urged the organization’s new director-general, Irina Bokova, to cancel the event.
A Paris-based event for Philosophy Day is expected to go ahead as scheduled on Nov. 18, which Ms. Bokova intends now to be the main celebration.
Western diplomats said that they had first raised the issue with Ms. Bokova early this year, when the deal with Iran became more widely known. This spring, Unesco said the event would go ahead as scheduled. On Tuesday Ms. Bokova announced that the organization would dissociate itself from any related events in Tehran.
There was no immediate comment from Iran about the Unesco pullout. But there were indications that Iran’s state-supervised press was attempting to gloss over Unesco’s absence. A report by the semi-official Mehr news agency, for example, said that besides the “gathering which will be held in Iran for the International Day of Philosophy, UNESCO will hold various events at its headquarters in Paris.”
As diplomats and nongovernmental organizations built up a better file on the case over the spring and summer, they pointed to the arrests and deportations of notable Iranian academics after the elections and to evidence that the event was being run by harder-line voices in the complicated Iranian system.
France was particularly involved in trying to convince Ms. Bokova to cancel the event, and was joined by other European Union countries in a démarche to Ms. Bokova, whose predecessor, Koichiro Matsuura, had made the deal with Iran in 2008 when Tehran offered to host this year’s event.
A senior Western diplomat pointed out that the decision to hold the day in a particular country was in the power of the director-general and that Unesco’s executive board had never been consulted on the issue.
One letter earlier this month to Ms. Bokova from the American ambassador to Unesco, David T. Killion, pointed to reports that the authorities intended to use World Philosophy Day for political purposes, while Iranian officials said in October that Western social and human sciences were dangerous for Iran. The Iranian minister in charge of science, research and technology announced the freezing of any new academic courses in Western disciplines, including philosophy, until their content could be reviewed to ensure that they conformed to Iran’s religious values.
Another senior Western diplomat said that Ms. Bokova had done the right thing by canceling the event and trying to maintain a dialogue with Tehran, but should have acted sooner. A quicker decision farther away from the event itself might have spared embarrassment both to Unesco and to Iran, which the West is trying to engage in serious talks about nuclear enrichment and regional security.
“The event in Iran was completely inappropriate given the events that took place after the 2009 elections,” the diplomat said. “There was a contradiction between Unesco’s ambitions and goals and those of philosophy itself, which depends on the right to think freely.”Ramin Jahanbegloo, an Iranian philosopher who was jailed in 2006 and now teaches at the University of Toronto, was instrumental in organizing an academic boycott of the Tehran event and wrote to Ms. Bokova urging her to reconsider. He pointed out that President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad had installed a hardline politician, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, whose daughter is married to the son of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as head of the Iranian Institute of Philosophy.
World Philosophy Day began in Paris but has been hosted since in Chile, Morocco, Turkey, Italy and Russia, with subsidiary events the same day in many other countries.”
Andreas Moser, a lawyer from Germany, says in his blog that he doesn’t understand UNESCO’s decision to award the hosting of the 2010 World Philosophy Congress to Iran‘. He continues by an presenting an ironic reaction by the Iranian government: ‘But as so often, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not avoid providing plenty of opportunities for the rest of the world to wake up and rethink its decisions: Iran will impose restrictions on its universities, not allowing any new courses in 12 social sciences and reviewing the existing courses in these subjects. Affected are among others law, psychology, political science and – as a special thanks to UNESCO for letting Iran host the World Philosophy Congress that is supposed to celebrate free thinking and encourage the exchange of ideas - philosophy. To nobody’s surprise, two subjects that will be scaled back and exposed to even tighter government control are human rights and women’s studies.’
He rightly concludes: ‘As a reason for this intervention, the Iranian government explained that these subjects “are not in harmony with religious foundations and are based on Western thoughts“. The brain drain from Iran will continue… – Meanwhile, let’s not hold our breath that this culling of education will change UNESCO’s mind. ‘