The rise of violent extremism is one of the greatest problems facing our world today, and it affects us all. Unfortunately, the blight of terrorism continues to be linked to Islam, causing severe reputation damage to the world’s second-largest religion and threatening our national unity.
Panelists will discuss how the continued linkage between terrorism and Islam has resulted in a highly polarized political climate, in which hate speech and other forms of Islamophobia are becoming increasingly prevalent. Panelists will also explain how extremist groups use hate crimes against Muslims to legitimize their narrative that the West is waging war on Islam, which helps them recruit adherents and spread their ideology. Finally, panelists will introduce their community-led campaign, WISE Up: Knowledge Ends Extremism, in which over 60 Muslim, Christian, Jewish, other faith and civic experts are working together to counter extremism, hate crimes, Islamophobia, and terrorism committed in the name of Islam; showing that Muslims are speaking out against all forms of hate.
Rabiah Ahmed serves as director of media and public affairs for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Rabiah has produced and managed a wide array of creative campaigns, including CAIR’s “Muslims Care” community volunteer program and “Beyond Stereotypes,” a media relations outreach effort. More recently, she helped launch “My Faith, My Voice,” a grassroots effort by American Muslims to speak out on issues affecting Islam in America through social media. Prior to joining MPAC, Rabiah founded Mirza PR, a public relations and event management firm specializing in strategic communication for the American Muslim community.
Wa’el Alzayat is CEO of Emgage, a leading Muslim American civic engagement organization, and adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He previously spent a decade serving in various policy positions at the U.S. Department of State, including as senior policy advisor to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, outreach coordinator for former Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, and special assistant to U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey. Wa’el was also a provincial affairs officer in Anbar, Iraq, for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad during the Iraq War troop surge of 2007-08. He is a member of the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, and a contributing author of the WISE Up policy paper.
Scott Cooper serves as director of national security outreach for Human Rights First, a nonprofit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York, D.C., Houston, and Los Angeles. He leads Human Rights First’s efforts to build partnerships with members of the military and national security communities as well as national security-focused think tanks and research institutions. Prior to joining Human Rights First, Scott served in the Marine Corps. An expert on civil-military relations, air power, and national security issues, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Washington Quarterly, Policy Review, Proceedings and The Marine Corps Gazette. He is a contributor to WISE Up: Knowledge Ends Extremism.
Daisy Khan is founder and executive director of the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE), a women-led organization committed to peace building, equality and justice for Muslims around the globe. A frequent speaker and media commentator, Daisy lectures on various issues, including Islam in America, women’s rights within Islam, and violent extremism. She launched the WISE Up campaign, and served as editor on its 350-page report, “WISE Up: Knowledge Ends Extremism.”
Arsalan Suleman is the former U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In that role, Suleman engaged with OIC member countries and civil society leaders on key foreign policy issues and areas of mutual interest, such as human rights, countering violent extremism, health, education, entrepreneurship, and science and technology. He previously served for four years as counselor for multilateral affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), where he focused on global human rights policy related to freedom of expression and freedom of religion in the Middle East, North Africa, and South and Central Asia. He is a member of the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, and a contributor to “WISE Up: Knowledge Ends Extremism.”