Reason vs. Rhetoric: Understanding American Muslims

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Join Our Shared Future, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum, and the Interfaith Alliance for a lively and engaging discussion that replaces negative rhetoric with thoughtful dialogue. Leading experts on religious freedom and on American Muslims will come together to explore issues facing the American Muslim community, their place in the broader national landscape, and how the American religious freedom framework compares and contrasts with the European framework, particularly in the United Kingdom. Through a series of four panels, the symposium will explore the growing debate surrounding the role of mosques, Shariah law, religious garb, and other issues related to Muslim life in the United States.


Watch Live online June 28 at 9:30 a.m.



Thursday June 28, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM EDT


The Knight Conference Center, Newseum
555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Sixth street entrance, 7th floor
Washington, DC 20001


Follow intrfthalliance on Twitter as we live tweet from the event.

Morning Session

8:45 – 9:30 Registration

9:30 – 10:45 Panel 1 – Religious Freedom & American Muslims

What are the guiding constitutional and legal principles for addressing the current debates about mosques, sharia law, religious garb in the workplace, accommodation for religious practices in public schools and other issues faced by American Muslims? How does the American response to these questions compare and contrast to the European response, particularly in the United Kingdom?

Moderator: Dr. Charles Haynes, Director, Religious Freedom Education Project, Newseum

Panelists: Eric Treene, Special Counsel, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice; Engy Abdelkader, Legal Fellow, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding; Kathleen Moore, Professor of Religious Studies, University of California Santa Barbara

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 12:15 Panel 2 – American Muslim: Caricature vs. Reality

An examination of the American Muslim role in their communities and institutional settings. Persistent stereotypes will be discussed in both a historical and contemporary sense.

Moderator: Dr. Emmanuel Kattan, Project Manager, Our Shared Future, British Council

Panelists: Precious Rasheeda Muhammad, Author & Historian; Mohamed Younis, Senior Analyst, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies; Maria Ebrahimji, Executive Editorial Producer and Director, CNN; Imam Mohamed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America and Executive Director, All Dulles Area Muslim Society

12:20 – 1:20 Lunch

Afternoon Session

1:30 – 2:45 Panel 3 – Sharia and Other Religious Laws

A legal and cultural discussion of what sharia is and is not. How has the debate about sharia been dealt with in the political arena and by the media? How does sharia compare to other religious systems of law practiced in the United States?

Moderator: Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President, Interfaith Alliance

Panelists: Julie Macfarlane, Professor of Law, University of Windsor and Fellow, ISPU; Sadakat Kadri, Author and Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers; Marc Stern, Associate General Counsel, American Jewish Committee

2:45 – 4:00 Panel 4 – Mosques in America

An examination of the traditional and contemporary role of mosques in America, including consideration of the Park 51 controversy and anti-mosque protests. The growth, history, and public perception of mosques in the United States will also be discussed.

Moderator: Shireen Zaman, Executive Director, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Panelists: Kathleen E. Foley, Fellow, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding; Mohamed Elibiary, National Security Policy Analyst and Member, Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council; Remziya Suleyman, Director of Policy & Administration, American Center for Outreach