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‘Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare’ to speak at Maxwell School
‘Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare’ to speak at Maxwell SchoolFebruary 07, 2008Jill Leonhardtjlleonha@maxwell.syr.edu
Irshad Manji, dubbed “Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare” by The New York Times for her criticisms of radical Islam and orthodox interpretations of the Koran, will speak at Syracuse University’s Maxwell Auditorium on Friday, Feb. 15, at 4 p.m. Manji is the best-selling author of “The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith” (St. Martin’s Press, 2004), published in nearly 30 countries, and director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University, which aims to develop leaders who will speak truth to power.
Manji’s talk — “Islam and Democracy: Do They Have a Prayer?” — will be facilitated by Rogan Kersh, associate professor of public service and associate dean for academic affairs at NYU Wagner, and former member of the Maxwell School faculty.
The discussion will be preceded by a clip from Manji’s acclaimed PBS documentary, “Faith Without Fear,” which chronicles her journey to reconcile Islam with freedom and human rights. For her pioneering reform work, Manji has received death threats and numerous distinctions, including Oprah Winfrey’s first annual Chutzpah Award for “audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction.” She was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum; a Senior Scholar by the European Foundation for Democracy; and one of three Muslim women creating positive change in Islam today by the Jakarta Post in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country.
As a journalist, Manji has written columns that have appeared frequently in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Times of London, the Toronto Globe and Mail, Al-Arabiya.net and other major news sources. Manji is also a social entrepreneur, having founded Project Ijtihad, an initiative to renew Islam’s tradition of critical thinking, debate and dissent by helping to build a network of reform-minded Muslims and non-Muslim allies. According to Harvard University professor Jane Mansbridge, “All is not lost if people of Irshad Manji’s capacity can carry a fresh and convincing message to the coming generation. I cannot urge her more strongly to maintain her frank, open and intelligent approach. This cause is, I believe, the most important new movement in several decades.”
Born in Uganda in 1968, Manji was raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, and graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia. At age 24, she was named to the editorial board of the Ottawa Citizen, making her the youngest member of an editorial board for any Canadian daily. She has hosted or produced several public affairs programs on television, one of which won the Gemini, Canada’s top broadcasting prize. In 2002, she became writer-in-residence at Hart House at the University of Toronto, where she began writing “The Trouble with Islam,” and was a visiting fellow with the International Security Studies program at Yale University during 2005 and 2006.
A reception in the Maxwell Foyer will follow Manji’s talk, which is part of The State of Democracy Lecture Series through the Maxwell School’s Campbell Public Affairs Institute. The series is sponsored by Betsy Levitt Cohn and Alan Cohn.