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IV's first event, "A Dialogue on Shias, Sunnis, and Politics in Iraq", will include a Muslim Speakers' panel of 3 prominent members of the American Muslim Community and 1 British Muslim.  The panel will be equally represented by members of both the Shia and Sunni schools of thought and various political persuasions.  Specific topics to be discussed have yet to be decided. We encourage your input in this in the "Your Forum" section or by sending an email of what you'd like to hear our speakers discuss to speakers@independentviewpoints.org.

The background of each of our confirmed speakers is shown below.

Noam Chomsky


Amy Goodman

“I really do think that if for one week in the United States we saw the true face of war, we saw people's limbs sheared off, we saw kids blown apart, for one week, war would be eradicated. Instead, what we see in the U.S. media is the video war game. Our mission is to make dissent commonplace in America.”

Amy Goodman has the perfect answer when asked who she represents: “Democracy Now.” As host of the only national radio/TV news show free of all corporate underwriting, she is able to present a range of independent voices not often heard on the airwaves. “Dissent,” she explains, “is what makes this country healthy.”

Goodman grew up on Long Island, the descendant of Hasidic rabbis and the daughter of radical parents. After graduating from Harvard in 1984 with a degree in anthropology, she spent 10 years as producer of the evening news show at WBAI, Pacifica Radio’s station in New York City. Democracy Now, which began in 1996, now airs on more than 225 stations across North America.

Goodman believes that media should be, in the title of the 2004 book she wrote with her brother David, The Exception to the Rulers. “The role of reporters,” she says, “is to go to where the silence is and say something.” For going to places like East Timor, Nigeria, Peru, and Haiti to report on stories ignored by the mainstream media, often as considerable risk, she has won many honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism, George Polk, and Overseas Press Club awards.

“She begins broadcasting at 7 a.m., and works until near midnight,” a reporter wrote in the Washington Post. Her fellow journalist Danny Schechter has said, about her, “She works hard and when she's not working, she works harder. She is earnest to a fault, with little patience for folks who may have a more nuanced stance on certain issues than she does. But she is informed, committed, passionate, thorough and very uncompromising.” Goodman is, Schechter says, “in a class of her own.”


Dr. Anisa Abd el Fattah

Dr. Anisa Abd el Fattah is the President of the National Association of Muslim American Women, and also heads the International Association for Muslim Women and Children, a UN-accredited NGO with the UN Habitat conference, and the Division on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinians. She is the past President of the United Association for Studies and Research, a northern Virginia research institute and think tank. Dr. Anisa was also a member of the founding Board of Directors for CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. She served for a brief period as the Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Research, CPPR. She co-authored with Dr. Ahmed Yousef, "The Agent: Truth Behind the Anti-Muslim Campaign in America", and "Islam and America: A New Reading." Until 2001, she served as the Editor for the now defunct Middle East Affairs Journal (MEAJ) house of organ of United Association of Studies and Research (UASR), which served as a voice for Islamic movement activists, and academicians from around the world. Dr. Anisa also authored, "Justice and Normative Law: Common Ground Underlying Christian-Muslim Cooperation," and "Revolution, The People, Basic Rights, and Social Order; The Institutionalization of the Islamic Revolution in Iran." Her most recent endeavor is the initiation of a new organization called the Center for Muslim World Studies. She is dedicating time and effort to establishing this center, which will provide reports and data that will identify and track the political, economic, social, and religious trends taking shape in the Muslim world, seeking to anticipate and understand these trends, and to forecast their potential global impact.

Shaykh Ibrahim Kazerooni

Ibrahim Kazerooni was born in 1958 in the holy city of Al-Najaf in southern Iraq into a family of theologians. He began his religious studies at an early age and continued them until his life took an unexpected turn. In 1974, he was arrested by Saddam Hussein's regime. He was imprisoned on a number of occasions, one lasting for more than 5 months. During that time, he spent two weeks in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. He was brutally tortured there, but somehow survived. After being released, Ibrahim resumed his academic life, but had to leave Iraq soon after, to escape being imprisoned again. He traveled through the Middle East in search of a safe place to stay. While in Iran, he completed his theological studies. Fearful of Iraq's secret police, he fled to England and began his secular education. The Iraqi Embassy found him and tried to force him to return, but he refused. The refusal cost a number of his family members their lives.

Imam Kazerooni is partnering with the Salam Institute of Peace and Justice in the conduct and evaluation of Imam trainings in the United States. A long-time activist in interfaith relations and bridge-builder between Christians and Muslims in the United Kingdom and in the United States, he is focused on developing a “lessons learned” analysis of the golden period of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim coexistence in Al-Andalusia, Spain for its relevance and applicability to the American experience of pluralism and diversity today. He is exploring conditions and variables that led to peaceful coexistence that can be used as positive models and replicated today.

Imam Kazerooni attended the Islamic Seminary College in Al-Najaf and Qum,
and has published on tolerance, pluralism and fundamentalism and taught
courses on Islamic exegesis, law and mysticism. He has also been honored as an Ambassador for Peace by the Inter-Religious and International Federation for World Peace, and currently lives in the Denver, Colorado area working on a Master of Theological Studies in the Iliff School of Theology.

Anas Shallal

Anas Shallal is an Iraqi American activist and a businessman.  He is a Foreign Policy in Focus (with the Institute for Policy Studies) Analyst and is a spokesperson for Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC).  He has been a featured speaker at several conferences and panels that deal with Iraqi as well as Israeli-Palestinian issues. He is the founder of Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives which was an ad hoc group formed prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  The group was instrumental in speaking out about the detrimental impact of war on ordinary Iraqis and sought to find more peaceful alternatives to change Iraq’s regime.  He has appeared on major television and radio shows including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NPR, and Pacifica. He has been published in various newspapers and journals.
Anas Shallal is also the co founder of The Peace Cafe which promotes Arab and Jewish dialogue and improved understanding.  Since its inception in 2000, the Peace Café has become the largest Arab Jewish dialogue group in the Washington metropolitan area with over 800 members.  Anas Shallal received a peace fellowship with the Seeds of Peace program which brings Arab and Israeli youth from the region to the United States during the summer to learn how to co exist.  He is also chair’s the board of Abraham’s Vision which works with students from different ethnic and religious communities to create safe spaces in which individuals can develop and re-develop their notions of themselves, the 'other', and the world at large.
He is the recipient of the Fairfax County Human Rights Award and the Jefferson Medal, the highest honor for volunteerism in the United States, and the United Nations Human Rights Community Award. Anas Shallal is a graduate of the Catholic University of America.

Salma Yaqoob

Salma Yaqoob born in 1971, is the head of the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition and the vice-chair of RESPECT The Unity Coalition.
She was born in Bradford to Pakistani parents and grew up in Birmingham. She is a trauma psychotherapist. She became an anti-war campaigner after being spat at in the street shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks and attending an anti-war meeting at which she was struck by hearing non-Muslims voice concerns about the upcoming war on Afghanistan. It has been suggested that she played a crucial role in inviting Muslims into an anti-war movement previously dominated by Marxists. She has argued against the idea, put forward by religious fundamentalists and sectarian left-wingers, that Muslims and non-Muslims cannot work together as well as with those within the Muslim community that have argued that Muslims should keep their heads down.
Salma had very little experience of politics prior to September 11 although she had been involved in the 'Justice for the Yemen Seven' campaign after her family became embroiled in the proceedings. This campaign was to support seven (later, eight) British Muslims who were accused by the Yemeni authorities of terrorist activities in Yemen's capital Amman during Christmas. Protests and lobbying in Britain eventually resulted in release of most of the British suspects following pressure from the British Home Office and the support of Labour MP Roger Godsiff.

In 2005 general election, she stood as the Respect candidate for the Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath constituency against Labour's Roger Godsiff MP, with the backing of the Muslim Association of Britain. She finished in second place, ahead of the Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates, and with 27.5% of the total vote.  This year she came back and won a stunning victory in Birmingham Sparkbrook city council elections, getting 49% of the vote and winning nearly twice the vote of her nearest (Labour Party) rival, and becoming the first elected hijab-wearing councillor in the city.

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