Augustana College printing logo

Augustana to host forum on Middle East revolution

August  28, 2013

Maytha Alhassen, a doctoral candidate from the University of Southern California who has traveled extensively across the Middle East and appeared on CNN and Al Jazeera television, will lead the “Speech, Action and Revolution in Today’s Middle East” forum.

The wave of revolution sweeping across the Middle East has far-ranging implications for people in the United States and every nation on earth, according to a panel of experts who will meet at Augustana College to discuss the so-called Arab Spring and its influence on the future of politics and power.

The forum, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12,  in Wallenberg Hall inside the Denkmann Memorial Building, (3520 7th Ave., Rock Island).

The forum, entitled “Speech, Action and Revolution in Today’s Middle East,” will be led by Maytha Alhassen, a doctoral candidate from the University of Southern California who has traveled extensively across the Middle East and appeared on CNN and Al Jazeera television, and Dr. Hussein Rashid, an academic and activist who received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and has appeared on CNN, Fox and CBS newscasts.

“A Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire in late 2010, protests arose throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and now, in a very short amount of time, we are looking at a whole new political order in that region,” said Dr. Cyrus A. Zargar, assistant professor of religion at Augustana who will moderate the discussion. “No one can afford to ignore the news anymore. No one can afford to live in a bubble, especially college students.”

Dr. Mariano Magalhães, who chairs Augustana’s political science department, said panelists also are likely to address the growing interest in Facebook and other forms of social media that have played a vital role in the popular uprisings.

“Nothing is permanent in politics,” said Dr. Magalhães. “What we see happening, not just in the Middle East but across the developing world, and to a lesser extent in the so-called developed world, is the use of new devices to ultimately express popular demands.”

The political upheaval known as the Arab Spring, which began less than three years ago, ignited an ongoing civil war in Syria, overthrew governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and sparked demonstrations across the globe, including the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.

“In today’s world, isolation and apathy are no longer options,” said Dr. Zargar.

In addition to leading the forum, panelists Alhassen and Dr. Rashid also will share their stories with smaller groups of Augustana students and faculty.

Some of those stories may reflect on a book of essays co-edited by Alhassen about the Arab uprisings, focusing on the rise of civic engagement by Islamic youth and the role of social media. Among his varied interests, Dr. Rashid also is an active blogger and commentator addressing a broad range of issues including the perception of Muslims in America, Islamic music and the interfaith communities of New York City.

Keri Rursch
Director of Public Relations
(309) 794-7721
kerirursch@augustana.edu