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Islam v. Islam group
Politics and Economy:
Islam and the West
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Participant Biographies

Muslims are a monotheistic people — they believe in one God - Allah. But Muslims around the world are not of one mind. This was clear in a conference sponsored by the Aspen Institute and moderated by Bill Moyers. The institute was exploring "Great Collisions" of the 21st century, beginning with the collision between Islam and the West.

These eight journalists and scholars . . . among them Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Agnostics, began by talking about their own reaction to September 11. And as they moved on found themselves discussing what events since 9/11 reveal about Islam's own contradictions.

The seven-hour seminar at the Aspen Institute was filmed for NOW. We have edited these conversations and presents them in ISLAM VS. ISLAM and JUSTICE AND JIHAD.

  • To watch selections from the Aspen Institute conversation
    on Islam and the West click on the video icons.

    Read the full transcript of the conversation.

  • Geneive Abdo
    Geneive Abdo

    Geneive Abdo is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and a Guggenheim Fellow. She was the correspondent in Iran for THE GUARDIAN of London and a regular contributor to THE ECONOMIST and THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 1998-2001.

    She has reported from numerous Islamic countries for over a decade, from the Middle East to North Africa and Central Asia. As a correspondent based in Cairo, she covered the Middle East for The DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Ms. Abdo reported the fall of the Soviet Union for Reuters news agency. She was a staff writer for NEWSDAY and THE BALTIMORE EVENING SUN in the 1980s.

    She is the author of NO GOD BUT GOD: EGYPT AND THE TRIUMPH OF ISLAM (Oxford University Press, 2000) and is completing a second book about the role of Islam in contemporary Iran, to be published this winter by Henry Holt. Her commentaries and essays on Islam have appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, WASHINGTON QUARTERLY, THE NEW REPUBLIC, THE NATION, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, and MIDDLE EAST REPORT. She has been a commentator on National Public Radio, the BBC, THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER, CNN and other radio and television services.

  • "We Told You — No More Scoops"
    In this article from the Guardian Unlimited, Iran correspondent Geneive Abdo, discusses the constraints on freedom of expression in Iranian society and her expulsion by the Iranian reformist government for "publishing fabrications and distortions."

  • Akbar S. Ahmed
    Akbar S. Ahmed

    Akbar S. Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and professor of International Relations at American University in Washington, DC. Dr. Ahmed is a distinguished anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker. He has been actively involved in interfaith dialogue and the study of global Islam and its impact on contemporary society.

    Dr. Ahmed is the author of many books on contemporary Islam, including DISCOVERING ISLAM: MAKING SENSE OF MUSLIM HISTORY AND SOCIETY, which was the basis of the BBC six-part TV series called LIVING ISLAM. His POSTMODERNISM AND ISLAM: PREDICAMENT AND PROMISE was nominated for the Amalfi Award, and his book ISLAM TODAY: A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO THE MUSLIM WORLD was rated among the best nonfiction of the year by the LOS ANGELES TIMES. His "Jinnah Quartet," a four-part project on Pakistan's founding father, M.A. Jinnah, has won numerous international awards. Dr. Ahmed has co-edited several books including THE FUTURE OF ANTHROPOLOGY: ITS RELEVANCE TO THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD.

    Dr. Ahmed has been a visiting professor and the Stewart Fellow in the Humanities at Princeton University and held appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Harvard University, and Cambridge University, where for five years he was the Iqbal Fellow. He has held senior positions in Pakistan, including the Pakistan High Commissioner (Ambassador) to the United Kingdom. Dr. Ahmed's commentary frequently appears in the news media in the United Kingdom and the United States. He is a regular syndicated columnist for Religion News Service.

  • "Islam and Freedom of Thought"
    In this essay, Akbar Ahmed and Lawrence Rosen argue that Muslims are increasingly abandoning a tradition filled with scholarship and freedom of thought for Islamic fundamentalism. Furthermore, they argue, by silencing scholars and intellectuals, ordinary Muslims are deprived of those who can best articulate a model for democratization and an end to terrorism.

  • David Aikman
    David Aikman

    David Aikman is an author, journalist, and foreign policy consultant. A senior fellow of the Trinity Forum, he was a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC from 1998 to 2002. Before that, he was a senior correspondent and foreign correspondent with TIME magazine. His 1999 two-hour documentary on the Middle East peace process, "Vanishing Peace: The Aftermath of Oslo" was shown worldwide on the BBC). He is a commentator on the editorial board of Salem Communications, one of the largest radio networks in the U.S., and an occasional participant on Voice of America's weekly foreign affairs program, Issues in the News. He has been a commentator on various international topics on ABC's Nightline, Fox News, CNN, the BBC and VOA's On the Line. His most recent book is GREAT SOULS: SIX WHO CHANGED THE CENTURY, and he is currently completing a six-part documentary version of this work for PBS.

    Over a 23-year career with TIME magazine, he reported from five continents and more than 55 countries, focusing especially on Russia, China, and the Middle East. Mr. Aikman has extensive radio experience and television experience, starting with frequent appearances from 1986 onwards on Voice of America's weekly news discussion program, "Issues in the News." In the spring of 2001 he was narrator, writer and interviewer for "Tortured Peace" and "The PLO: From Exile to Power," a three-part television series that was largely an updating of "Vanishing Peace." Mr. Aikman's TV production company, AIM International, is currently in production of "Great Souls" for PBS.

  • David Aikman
    A biography of David Aikman from the Ethics and Public Policy Center, this page contains a biographical introduction, a timeline of Aikman's career at TIME magazine, his educational experiences, awards and contact information.

  • Charles Krauthammer
    Charles Krauthammer

    Charles Krauthammer is a syndicated columnist and a regular weekly panelist on "Inside Washington," Washington's highest rated political TV talk show, and a contributing editor to THE NEW REPUBLIC and THE WEEKLY STANDARD. In addition, he also serves on the editorial board of several journals, including the National Interest and the Public Interest.

    From 1975-78 he practiced medicine as a resident and then chief resident in Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital. His scientific papers, including his co-discovery of a form of manic-depressive illness, are still frequently cited in the psychiatric literature.

    In 1978, he quit psychiatry and came to Washington to serve as a science adviser in the Carter Administration and, later, speechwriter to then Vice President Walter Mondale. In 1981, he joined the staff of The New Republic where he was an essayist and editor from 1981-88. In the mid-1980s, he began writing a weekly syndicated column for THE WASHINGTON POST and a monthly essay for TIME magazine. In his first full year as a syndicated columnist, he won the Pulitzer Prize (Distinguished Commentary, 1987). His NEW REPUBLIC essays won the highest award in magazine writing, the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism (1984).

    He has won awards for his writing on everything from the economics of oil (the Champion/Tuck Media Award for Economic Understanding) to religion in civil society (People for the American Way, First Amendment Award). His essays have appeared in dozens of anthologies on subjects ranging from nuclear deterrence to gay marriage. A collection of his essays and columns, CUTTING EDGES, was published in 1985 (Random House).

  • "Countering Radical Islam"
    An article from, Charles Krauthammer argues that utter defeat of the Taliban regime by superior American military power has led other Islamic nations to seek out and dismantle other Al-Queda cells in fear of the same fate.

  • Kanan Makiya
    Kanan Mohamed Makiya

    Kanan Makiya is a professor of Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. He also directs the Iraq Research and Documentation Project at Harvard University; where he is attempting to make available for scholarly research some three million pages of official Iraqi government documents captured by the Kurds following the Gulf War in 1991.

    The Baghdad-born Makiya is founding director of The Iraq Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that promotes public activities concerning democracy in Iraq. In October 1992, he acted as the convenor of the Human Rights Committee of the Iraqi National Congress, a transitional parliament based in northern Iraq.

    Professor Makiya has collaborated on two films for television, the most recent of which exposed for the first time the 1988 campaign of mass murder in northern Iraq known as the Anfal. The film was shown in the United States under the title "Saddam's Killing Fields" and received the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Television Documentary on Foreign Affairs in 1992.

    His books, published in English, Arabic, Kurdish, and French, include REPUBLIC OF FEAR (written under the pseudonym Samir al-Khalil) and CRUELTY AND SILENCE, which was awarded The Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book on international relations published in English in 1993. THE ROCK: A SEVENTH CENTURY TALE OF JERUSALEM has just been published by Pantheon Books in New York.


  • "Fighting Islam's Ku Klux Klan"
    From the GUARDIAN UNLIMITED, Iraqi dissident Kanan Makiya concedes that Muslims have legitimate grievances against the U.S., but that it has spawned into a pathological and irrational ideology that is hijacking Islamic culture. To counter this diffusion of radical Islam, he argues Muslims must cease all affiliations with Al-Queda and see their members for the what they are: terrorists.

  • Eric Rouleau
    Eric Rouleau

    Eric Rouleau is a syndicated columnist, author, and consultant. In 2001, he was visiting professor at Princeton University at the Institute for Transregional Studies of the Middle East, North Africa, and central Asia.

    He served as executive director at the Centre for Global Dialogue, a think tank based in Nicosia, Cyprus. He was guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where he conducted research for future books.

    From 1988 to 1992, Mr. Rouleau was French Ambassador to Turkey. From 1986 to 1988, he served as ambassador-at-large for the French government and for the President of the Republic. From 1985 to 1986, he was ambassador to Tunisia, where he was simultaneously responsible for French relations with the Arab League and the Palestine Liberation Organization, both then based in Tunis.

    Mr. Rouleau was visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1974.

    For more than 30 years, he was editorial writer and special correspondent for the French daily, LE MONDE, in the Arab countries Iran, Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus.

  • "My Country Will Not Be America's Gas Pumps"
    In this LE MONDE article, Eric Rouleau describes the perceptions of America by three of its closest allies: Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. While these countries are closely allied to the United States, Rouleau documents fear that a continuation of United States' Middle East policies will lead to a further disintegration of the Arab Street's opinion of the U.S. or to civil insurrection and conflict by popular forces.

  • Fareed Zakaria
    Fareed Zakaria

    Fareed Zakaria was named editor of NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL in October 2000. He oversees the content and direction of NEWSWEEK's overseas editions, which reach an audience of 3.5 million worldwide. He also writes a regular column for NEWSWEEK and THE WASHINGTON POST. Mr. Zakaria came to the magazine from FOREIGN AFFAIRS, the widely-circulated journal of international politics and economics, where he was managing editor.

    Prior to joining FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Mr. Zakaria ran the "Project on the Changing Security Environment and American National Interests" at Harvard University, where he also taught international relations and political philosophy. He has written frequently for such publications as THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, THE NEW YORKER, THE NEW REPUBLIC, and the webzine Slate. He is the author of From WEALTH TO POWER: THE UNUSUAL ORIGINS OF AMERICA'S WORLD ROLE (Princeton University Press), which has been translated into several languages, and co-editor of THE American ENCOUNTER: THE UNITED STATES AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD (Basic Books). He is working on a book about the past, present and future of democracy, to be published in the fall of 2002 by W.W. Norton.

    Mr. Zakaria shared an Overseas Press Club Award with a NEWSWEEK reporting team and also shared a 2002 National Magazine Award for General Excellence in the category for magazines over two million in circulation. He was named "one of the most important people of the 21st Century" by ESQUIRE magazine in 1999.

    He received a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.

  • "The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?"
    From NEWSWEEK, columnist Fareed Zakaria presents an 11-part series explaining the roots of Anti-Americanism and rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Arab world.

  • JUSTICE AND JIHAD and ISLAM VS. ISLAM are the product of a Great Collisions Seminar at the Aspen Institute.

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