Muslim-American Group to Launch Speakers Series

Posted June 26, 2007 at 5:07pm

Over the past nine months, the American Islamic Congress, which formed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has worked to build relationships with Capitol Hill staff.

Now the fruits of its labors are finally paying off, according to the group’s D.C. program director, Jana El Horr.

The anti-hate-speech and anti-terrorism AIC, which El Horr says aims to “empower reformers and reform groups in the Middle East and Muslim world” and promote human rights, will launch a yearlong series of lunchtime panel discussions for Hill staffers this Thursday on Capitol Hill with the support of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), which have offered them the use of a room.

“We want to connect reformers from the Middle East and Arab world to staffers on the Hill,” El Horr said of the group, which bills itself as “an alternative voice to radical Islamists.”

The inaugural event, “Reforms in the Middle East: Threats and Challenges,” will take place in Room 121 of the Cannon House Office Building at noon. Moderated by AIC co-founder and executive director Zainab Al-Suwaij, an Iraqi who grew up under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the panel will include the Hudson Institute’s Zeyno Baran and Ammar Abdulhamid, founder of DarEmar and a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution.

A second seminar on July 25 will focus on Muslim and Arab responses to the Sudanese government.

The series will break for the August recess before recommencing in September. Possible future topics include capital punishment laws in the Middle East and human rights education in the region.

— Bree Hocking