Meet Our Speakers
Racial Justice and Civil Rights Activist
Linda Sarsour is an award winning racial justice and civil rights activist, community organizer, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare and mother of three. She is a Palestinian-Muslim-American born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is the former Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and the co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change. She is a member of the Justice League NYC, a leading force of activists, artists, youth and formerly incarcerated individuals committed to criminal justice reform through direct action and policy advocacy. Most recently, she was one of the national co-chairs of the largest single day protest in US history, the Women’s March on Washington. She has been named amongst 500 of the most influential Muslims in the world. She has won numerous awards including Champion of Change from the Obama Administration. She was recognized as one of Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders and featured as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2017. Sheis a frequent media commentator on issues impacting Muslimcommunities, Middle East affairs and criminal justice reform and most recognized for her transformative intersectional organizing work and movement building.
Marc Lamont Hill
American Academic, Author, Activist, & TV Personality
Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is one of the leading intellectual voices in the country. He is currently the host of BET News and a political contributor for CNN. An award-winning journalist, Dr. Hill has received numerous prestigious awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, GLAAD, and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Dr. Hill is the Steve Charles Professor of Media, Cities, and Solutions at Temple University. Prior to that, he held positions at Columbia University and Morehouse College. Since his days as a youth in Philadelphia, Dr. Hill has been a social justice activist and organizer. He is a founding board member of My5th, a non-profit organization devoted to educating youth about their legal rights and responsibilities. He is also a board member and organizer of the Philadelphia Student Union. Dr. Hill also works closely with the ACLU Drug Reform Project, focusing on drug informant policy. Over the past few years, he has actively worked on campaigns to end the death penalty and to release numerous political prisoners. Ebony Magazine has named him one of America’s 100 most influential Black leaders. Dr. Hill is the author or co-author of four books: the award-winning Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity; The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black life in America; the New York Times bestseller Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on The Vulnerable from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond; and Gentrifier. He has also published two edited books: Media, Learning, and Sites of Possibility; and Schooling Hip-Hop: New Directions in Hip-Hop Based Education. Trained as an anthropologist of education, Dr. Hill holds a Ph.D. (with distinction) from the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the intersections between culture, politics, and education in the United States and the Middle East.
ice President of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People in Tunisia
Sheikh Abdelfattah Mourou is a co-founder of the Ennahdha Party in Tunisia and serves as its Vice-President. He has been the First Vice President of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People in Tunisia since 2014.
Sheikh Mourou graduated from the University of Tunis in 1970 where he studied law. He served as a judge until 1977 then resigned to work as a lawyer thus far. Sheikh Mourou is one of the most prominent politicians and preachers in Tunisia.
Palestinian Filmmaker & Media Consultant
Rawan Damen, a Palestinian Filmmaker and Media consultant – the CEO and Founder of Stream Media Consultancy. She is a policy member of Al-Shabaka and a board member of ARIJ (Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism) and board member of Palestine International Forum for Media and Communication and jury member of Media Creativity Award for Palestine. She produced and directed more than 30 hours of TV documentaries, translated to multiple languages, including the internationally renowned award-winning documentary series Al-Nakba. Rawan worked as a senior commissioning producer at Al Jazeera Media Network for 10 years, working with tens of documentary filmmakers. She founded and led teams on multiple digital platforms, notably the innovative project Palestine Remix, the largest visual interactive website on Palestine. And she is now heading the brand-new initiative Palestine Ambassador (to be launched in Sep 2019). She holds an MA (with Distinction) in Communications Studies from Leeds University, UK, and BA (with Distinction) in Media and Sociology from Birzeit University, Palestine. She received the Media Creativity Award by the Arab Thought Foundation in Beirut (Dec 2015).
President and Chairman, AMP
Hatem Bazian is a co-founder and Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College, the 1st Accredited Muslim Liberal Arts College in the United States. In addition, Prof. Bazian is a lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Bazian between 2002-2007, also served as an adjunct professor of law at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches courses on Islamic Law and Society, Islam in America: Communities and Institutions, De-Constructing Islamophobia and Othering of Islam, Religious Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. In addition to Berkeley, Prof. Bazian served as a visiting Professor in Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California 2001-2007 and adviser to the Religion, Politics and Globalization Center at UC Berkeley.
Executive Director and National Board Member, AMP
Dr. Osama Abuirshaid is the Executive Director and a national board member of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). He is a board member of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella organization of eight major national American Muslim organizations. He lectures frequently on the Middle East and American politics. He is a regular commentator on Palestinian and Middle Eastern affairs as well as on the American domestic and foreign policy on various Arabic satellite T.V. channels such as Aljazeera. He authored or coauthored several books in Arabic and he published dozens of studies and articles in Arabic and English, on issues relevant to the Middle East and its political climate. He is the co-author of the controversial study: “Hamas: Ideological Rigidity and Political Flexibility,” which was published by the United States Institute of Peace in 2009. He is a community activist and speaker. Abuirshaid completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom.
CODEPINK National Co-Director
Ariel Gold is the national co-director of CODEPINK. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University and a masters degree in Social Work from State University of New York, Binghamton. Before being banned from entering Israel in June 2018, Ariel used to travel to the West Bank one to two times per year to work with Palestinian individuals and organizations on the ground in their struggle for freedom and justice. Though she can no longer travel to Palestine, she carries out creative actions for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine and throughout the world. Ariel has been published in the Forward, Huffington Post, Tikkun Magazine, Truthout, Mondoweiss, and more.
Mohammad Abbasi has more than 10 years of business development experience with emphasis on leadership and team-building while coaching, consulting and training business associates and sales forces nationally for the second largest real estate company in the United States. He has helped launch several mosques and schools in New Jersey. He also has been a Friday khateeb and lecturer since 1990 and has raised funds for countless Islamic projects nationwide since the 1980s.
Secretary General, USCMO
Oussama Jammal is the secretary general of the US Council of Muslim Organizations, a national coalition of several national organizations. He is also the director of the Muslim American Society – Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, an organization dedicated to empowering the Muslim communi – ty to engage in civic affairs. Mr. Jammal is also the vice president of the Mosque Foundation.
Assistant Professor of Islamic History- Istanbul 29 Mayis University
Dr. Abdallah Marouf Works currently as Assistant Professor of Islamic History at Istanbul 29 Mayis University in Istanbul – Republic of Turkey. He holds Ph.D. in Islamic Jerusalem Studies from the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom. He is known for his interest and research in Cultural and Historical Studies, especially in Historical Syria and Palestine.
Author & Professor of Iranian Studies, Rutgers University
Golbarg Bashi was born in Iran, raised in Sweden, and educated in the U.K. and U.S. She received a M.Sc. in Women’s Studies from the University of Bristol and her Ph.D. from Columbia University in the City of New York in 2010. For over a decade, Dr. Bashi has designed and taught interdisciplinary courses on various aspects of medieval and modern history of the West Asia, as well as Islamic Art, Critical Methodologies in Middle Eastern Studies, Comparative Human Rights, Gender in the Muslim World, and Representations of Race, Gender and Ethnicity in “Western” Media and Popular Culture. Her childhood experiences of the Iraq-Iran war and life in Sweden as a refugee have turned her into an advocate for diversity in children’s literature and media. In 2016, she was nominated by the U.S. toy industry “Wonder Woman Award” in the Designer/Inventor category for advancing early childhood education through play for languages using the Arabic and Persian-scripts. Her first children’s book, P is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book, was published to critical acclaim in November, 2017. After a full-time career as an academic, she is now focused on diversifying children’s media and empowering children from underrepresented and marginalized countries, communities with gender/race equal, positive, environmentally conscious, educational, and fun social justice stories that inform all of the interconnectedness of world cultures.
Imam and Director of Religious Affairs, The Mecca Center
Sheikh Hassan Mostafa Aly is the Imam and Director of Religious affairs at The Mecca Center in Willowbrook, Illinois since December 2011. He is a graduate of prestigious Al-Azhar University of Cairo, Egypt in Islamic Studies and Sharia. He has the “sanad / ijazah” linked to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Quran and Hadith. He has held the position of Imam and served as the director of religious affairs in many Islamic centers and has taught at Islamic schools in Egypt and the USA. He is also the author of many articles published in newspapers and websites. Sheikh Aly is the recipient of the Best Religious Speech award from Al-Azhar University Cairo in 2002. He has hosted many Islamic radio shows in US. Currently, he is a Ph.D candidate in Theology.
Assistant Professor, Lafayette College
Hafsa Kanjwal is an assistant professor of South Asian history at Lafayette College. She received her PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in History and Women’s Studies. Her research focuses on post-Partition state-building in Indian-occupied Kashmir. She has written and spoken on Kashmir for a variety of news outlets including The Washington Post, Al Jazeera English, and the BBC.
Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History, Columbia University
Joseph Massad teaches and writes about modern Arab politics and intellectual history. He has a particular interest in theories of identity and culture – including theories of nationalism, sexuality, race and religion. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1998. He is the author of Desiring Arabs (2007), which was awarded the Lionel Trilling Book Award; The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinian Question (2006); and Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan (2001). His book Daymumat al-Mas’alah al-Filastiniyyahwas published by Dar Al-Adab in 2009, and La persistance de la question palestinienne was published by La Fabrique in 2009. The Arabic translation of Desiring Arabs was published in 2013 by Dar Al-Shuruq Press in Cairo under the title Ishtiha’ Al-‘Arab. His latest book is Islam in Liberalism,”University of Chicago Press, 2015. The book was translated to Arabic under the title Al-Islam fi al-Libraliyyah, Dar Jadawel, Beirut, 2018. Several forums and symposia have been published on Islam in Liberalism with many contributors and responses from Massad: Forum on Islam in Liberalism in the journal Politics, Religion, and Ideology
American Author, Political Analyst & Activist
Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of several hundred anti-Israel groups from across the United States. The US Campaign is one of the primary organizers of anti-Israel strategies and initiatives in the U.S. and is a driving force behind the campaign to end U.S. foreign aid to Israel. Ruebner, the author of a recently released book called Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace, has frequently used extreme language to condemn Israel, its policies, and its supporters in the United States. He has alleged that the “Israel lobby” controls U.S. policy, claiming in a 2011 article in The Huffington Post that Congress is backed by the “fearsome power of the Israel Lobby,” and arguing in an interview that same year that Israel’s supporters try to “suppress debate and suppress information.”
Senior Reporter, Middle East Eye
Azad Essa is a senior reporter for Middle East Eye based in New York City. He worked for Al Jazeera English between 2010-2018 covering southern and central Africa for the network. He is the author of The Moslems are Coming (Harper Collins India) and Zuma’s Bastard (Two Dogs Books).
President and CEO, Fakhoury Leadership International
Manal graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.S., and from the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy with a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree. She completed a clinical residency at Shands Hospital. After completing her residency, she accepted a position as the Clinical Coordinator at ORMC where she is currently working. She earned her MBA degree from Webster University and earned Most Outstanding Business Student Award. She is married to Dr. Riadh Fakhoury, a Chiropractic Physician, and has five beautiful children. Manal’s civic engagement includes; serving as Chairwoman of United Voices for America, a civic engagement organization working to increase the participation of people of color, minorities, and youth in the political process. Manal also serves as Chairwoman of the Go Red For Women Movement through the American Heart Association, and Co-Chair of HUGS Charities Inc. Manal is on the board of United Way of Marion County, Ocala Marion County Chamber of Commerce, Central Florida Community College Foundation, Public Education Foundation, Florida Center for the Blind, Women of Worth, Discovery Science & Outdoor Center, President of the Marion Toast Masters Chapter, and Suntrust Bank board of directors. She is a member of the Islamic Center of Ocala. Manal enjoys traveling, exercising, and spending time with her family. She is working toward her midnight blue belt in karate and distinguished toastmaster certificate. Manal is a certified hypnotherapist and executive coach. She successfully summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in Jan. 2014. Her awards include Person of the Year, Women of Influence, and Best Motivator.
Imam and Director, The Prayer Center of Orland Park
Sheikh Kifah Mustapha is the Imam and Director of The Prayer Center of Orland Park. He is the appointed representative for the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Lebanon (Darul Fatwa) on behalf of the Lebanese Community in the USA.
National Executive Director, CAIR
Nihad Awad is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. He has been frequently interviewed on national and international media such as CNN, BBC World Service, PBS, C-SPAN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Voice of America and Al-Jazeerah. CAIR news releases are disseminated to hundreds of thousands people worldwide on a daily basis. Numerous law enforcement agencies and Fortune 500 companies—including Nike and DKNY—have benefited from CAIR educational seminars on Islamic traditions and culture. In addition to resolving employment discrimination issues involving American Muslims, Mr. Awad has also conducted over 100 public relations and media training seminars nationwide. Mr. Awad is a regular participant in the U.S. Department of State’s “International Visitors Program”, which welcomes foreign dignitaries, journalists and academics who are currently visiting the President of the United States. He has also spoken at prestigious educational institutions, including Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins Universities. He was also a featured speaker at the 2002 Reuters Forum on global cooperation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. In addition, he actively works with local and national interfaith leaders and organizations in the interest of promoting positive relations among people of diverse faith communities.
Palestinian Writer, Academic and Historian
Professor Nur Masalha is a Palestinian historian and formerly Director of the Centre for Religion and History at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham. He is Editor of “Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies”: http://www.euppublishing.com/journal/hls, published by Edinburgh University Press. He is the author of many books on Palestine-Israel. His current work focuses on religion and politics in the Middle East, oral history and social memory theory, subaltern studies, new Palestinian and Israeli historiography, the Bible and Zionism, Holy Land toponymy, Jerusalem archaeology, theologies of liberation in Palestine and Life-Long Learning in Palestine.
Executive Director, Islamic Society of Milwaukee
Milwaukee attorney Othman Atta is the executive director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, where he has served in various positions for the past 30 years. Mr. Atta was born in Palestine. He received his degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University Law School.
Journalist and Educator, AMP Board Chicago
Deanna Othman is a journalist and educator. She has had a religion column on the Huffington Post and also has been published in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and on Salon.com, Patheos, AlterNet, The New Arab and the blog Mondoweiss. She also served as the assistant editor of Islamic Horizons magazine. Othman currently teaches literature and journalism at Universal School in Bridgeview, IL. She is also a board member of AMP-Chicago and a past board member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. She holds a Bachelor’s in English and International Studies, and a Master’s in Journalism, both from Northwestern University.
Attorney and Activist, AMP Chicago Chapter
Tarek Khalil is an attorney and activist. As an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), he was a member of the Students for Justice in Palestine. He has worked with the Illinois Coalition Against Torture, an organization which seeks to end domestic police torture and raise awareness of global torture. Tarek defended the civil rights of the Chicagoland community as a volunteer attorney for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago). He is also a board member with the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP-Chicago). With AMP, Tarek lectures on topics such as modern Palestinian history, Middle East politics, and Palestinian rights under international law.
Abdul Malik Mujahid
President of Sound Vision
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid is an award-winning author and producer. He is the President of Sound Vision, a 32-year-old Media, public relations, and resource development not for profit organization of Muslims which also powers human rights campaigns to stop the genocide in Burma, End concentration camps of Uighur Muslims, and free Kashmir.
Imam Mujahid also chairs Faith Coalition to Stop Genocide. As the national coordinator of the Bosnia Task Force, he successfully led efforts in coalition with National Organizations of Women (NOW) to declare rape as a war crime in international law. He is chair emeritus of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Imam Mujahid was selected eight times as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world in 2011-2018 by a George Town University Project.
Palestine Activism Program Director, American Friends Service Committee in Chicago
Jennifer Bing directs the Palestine Activism program for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Chicago. Jennifer began her advocacy for Palestinian children after working as a teacher in a Quaker school in Ramallah during the first Palestinian uprising (1986-1989). During those years she also worked as a field worker and researcher for Save the Children, documenting the impact of the first popular uprising on Palestinian children under the age of 16. Jennifer has worked with AFSC since 1989, organizing dozens of speaking tours, conferences, educational workshops, protests, delegations, and public events. While the focus of her work is on Palestine and Israel, Jennifer also worked on U.S. anti-war campaigns and to lift the sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s. Jennifer currently works with Defense for Children International Palestine on their joint advocacy campaign, “Israeli Military Detention: No Way to Treat a Child.” She also co-leads the educational project “Gaza Unlocked” with her AFSC colleagues in the US and Gaza.
Director of Advocacy and Government Relations at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)
Kyle Cristofalo is the Director of Advocacy and Government Relations at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). Kyle holds a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Messiah College, and a Master of Divinity Degree from Emory University. Kyle was first introduced to Middle East advocacy work during a semester abroad in Cairo, Egypt. After graduating from college, Kyle spent 10 months serving with the Mennonite Central Committee in Bethlehem, Palestine, where he was seconded to work with Bethlehem Bible College. Prior to joining CMEP, Kyle served as the Program Assistant for Middle East Policy at the Friends Committee on Legislation where he helped coordinate lobbying work on Middle East policy and trained grassroots advocates on how to lobby their Congressional representatives and as a grant writer for non profit organizations.
Member of the coordinating committee for Jewish Voice for Peace in Chicago
Lesley Williams is a member of the coordinating committee for Jewish Voice for Peace in Chicago, the advisory board and Speakers Bureau for Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism, and a founding member of Tzedek Chicago, a non-Zionist, pro social justice synagogue in Chicago. Lesley has twice visited the West Bank with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence for solidarity work and resistance with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists, and is on CJNV’s Strategy and Values planning team. She has spoken on Islamophobia, antisemitism and Zionism at the American Studies Association conference, the MAS-ICNA conference and the American Muslims for Palestine conference; and recently appeared on a panel organized by Friends of Sabeel: Countering Christian Zionism. She is the author of The Anti Defamation League Kills the Black/Jewish Alliance and “We Cannot Fight Anti-Semitism and Anti-Black Racism in Isolation” in Truthout and is working with local coalitions of teachers and activists to bring Palestinian history into school curricula.
Executive Director, FOSNA (Friends of Sabeel North America)
Growing up in Bethlehem, Palestine, Tarek moved with his family to Texas during the first Intifada when he was 12. After graduating from the University of Texas Law School, Tarek started his career working for the Negotiations Support Unit in Ramallah, researching legal and policy issues. Since, Tarek worked in Hebron for 9 years as the coordinator of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron www.cpt.org and served as the representative of Rev. Bernard LaFayette (protégé of Dr. Martin Luther King) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Lafayette for 5 years training Palestinian youth in grassroots organizing and activism. Currently, Abuata serves as the Executive Director of Friends of Sabeel North America www.fosna.org