3:00 PM15:00

The Struggle for Academic Freedom: Perspectives from the Arab World

  • Dag Hammarskjold Lounge (7th Floor) International Affairs Building, Columbia University (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Followed by a reception: Five scholars from the region
Cosponsored by Human Rights Watch


  • Mohamed Bechri, University of Sousse, Tunisia
  • Daho Djerbal, Editor of Naqd Quarterly, Algiers
  • Hoda Elsadda, Cairo University
  • Munira Fakhroo, University of Bahrain
  • Salim Tamari, Institute for Palestine Studies, Jerusalem

Chaired by:

  • Joseph Stork, Human Rights Watch

Dr. Bechri talked about the limitations imposed by the state on the academic freedom of its citizens.

Dr. Elsadda gave a history of women's liberation and struggles for freedom in the past century.

Dr. Djerbal presented the audience with the history of violations against academic freedom in Algiers and recent forms of attacks on democratic freedoms.

Dr. Fakhro spoke on the academic environment in Bahrain.

Dr. Tamari argued that it wasn't so much the limitations set by states that offset the flourishing of academia generally, but a general lack of academic production in the universities due to the lack of books and the influx of students from rural areas whose views are more conservative.

After the conference, the panelists took questions from the audience. 

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12:30 PM12:30

Israel and the Palestinians: What Now?

Hirsch Goodman, Deputy Director, Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University

Mr. Goodman argued that Yassir Arafat shows inability to commit himself to co-existence, which is due to his ideology. He also argued that Arafat manipulates the street situation. Security, Mr. Goodman argued, was the ultimate unifying factor of Israeli political opinion. 

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5:00 PM17:00

Panel on Middle East Internships

Nahid Seyedsayamdost, Program Assistant

Barak Barfi (JTS)
ABC News Field Producer and AP Correspondent, both in Jerusalem
Barak was sent into the field to interview politicians and other VIP and also to conflict zones where he had to cover refugee issues.

Shirabe Yamada (SIPA, MIA 1)
Program Director of Volunteers for Peace in Palestine, Middle East Children's Alliance
Shirabe is the Prog Dir of VPP, which is an organization that matches people seeking internships in the NGO and non-profit sector with such positions.

Samar Mussa Al-Bulushi (CC'01/ SIPA, MIA 1) BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights Bethlehem
Samar worked with Palestinian refugees and helped them with legal issues.

Heidi Altman (SIPA, MIA 1) B'Tselem, Israeli organization doing human rights work in occupied territories, Israel
Heidi worked for an Israeli organization that worked for Palestinian human rights issues. She said two important skills for any internship nowadays are being able to design web sites and being able to speak languages.

Yasmine Mahdavi (SIPA, MPA 2) United Nations Regional Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Beirut, Lebanon
She recommends people really investigating the internship they want to get into.

Neguin Yavari
Associate Professor of Religion at Columbia
Neguin has language teaching opportunities in Iran and Tajikistan. Neguin has opportunities for people to live and teach English in Tajikistan for three months in the summer.

Kareem Fahim
Al-Ahram Weekly Newspaper Cairo SIPA, MIA 2
Kareem wrote articles for al-Ahram.

Michael Morefield (CC'01)
US Embassy in Bahrain
The internship was fulfilling because he wrote many cables and was really involved with what was going on. 

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5:00 PM17:00

"The New Central Asia: The Creation of New Nations" by Olivier Roy

Olivier Roy, CNRS, and author

Olivier Roy of the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, focused on identity changes in Central Asia, especially in Farghana where so many Central Asian nations meet betwixt Soviet designed borders. He focused on how Islam affects identity in this area of newly independent states. 

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5:00 PM17:00

Panel on the Current Crisis in Israel and the Palestine Authority

Gary Sick, moderator; Naomi Weinberger, Seth Weissman, and Samir Awad.
Director of UN Studies, Professor Weinberger, DIPA Economist Professor Weissman, and Political Science Ph.D. candidate Awad discussed the Aqsa Intifada in Israel and the Palestine National Authority wondering whether the Oslo peace agreement was dead, whether it could or even should be revived. The three panelists generally agreed that a short-term goal was an end to the violence and a long-term goal was the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian territories, as well as the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian state. 

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5:00 PM17:00

Qaddaffi Reconsidered

Michael Gunter, Tennessee Technological Univ.

Mr. Gunter asserted that the US treatment of Qaddaffi has been unfair and arbitrary. The US has not followed the policies it applies to other authoritative and adversarial regimes in its dealing with Libya. He argued that the State Department was going for Qaddafi's jugular arbitrarily. 

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5:00 PM17:00

Women's Issues and the Taliban

Abdul-Rahman Zahid, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Mr. Zahid argued that women had no problems in Afghanistan, and that all women's problems could be reduced to financial and economic factors. Women, according to him, would have broad rights in terms of education and profession if there be more financial means to support such programs. 

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4:30 PM16:30

Human Rights in Egypt: The Case of Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim

September: Barbara Ibrahim, Cairo, Egypt

Barbara Ibrahim spoke about the arrest of her husband Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim a well-known Egyptian professor and intellectual by the Egyptian government. She argued that her husband had been arrested due to his political views, and that the arrest is a clear case of human rights violations and a threat to academic freedom and other forms of freedom in Egypt. 

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4:30 PM16:30

No Longer Rogues? Iran and Iraq and the Future of the Middle East

Gary Sick, Columbia University
Acting Director Dr. Gary Sick kicked off the Fall 2000 Brown Bag Series by discussing the current political situations in Iran and Iraq. He argued that it was critical for the United States to pay more attention to rebuilding and nurturing political and economic ties with Iran. In the case of Iraq, Dr. Sick suggested that the US should not be the cause of economic devastation. 

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