Civic Media Session: "Representing Islam"
Intisar Rabb, Amir Ahmad Nasr, and Nasser Weddady
Moderated by Ethan Zuckerman
Media dialogues in America have often centered on the role of Islam in US and global society. The representation of Islam in debates over the Park 51 Mosque in lower Manhattan, for example, offers the voices of many non-Muslims offering their interpretations of Islam, not all of which are well-informed. The panelists we've invited have taken on the challenge of representing Islam to American and global audiences, in different contexts - they offer scholarly research on what Islamic scholars believe and argue, to challenge discourse about "Sharia law"; they feature a multiplicity of voices offering different visions of what it is to be Muslim.
What does it mean to represent roughly one-fifth of humankind? How does participatory media change the dynamics of representing Islam...or representing any other faith, belief or conviction?
Intisar A. Rabb is an assistant professor of law at Boston College Law School, a faculty research affiliate at Harvard Law School in the Islamic Legal Studies Program, and a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society (for the project islawmix.org - an online resource for issues related to Islamic law). She is also a 2010 Carnegie Scholars for research on contemporary Islam. Her research centers on comparative Islamic law and legal history, advanced constitutional law, and criminal law. Rabb received a BA from Georgetown University, a JD from Yale Law School, an MA and a PhD from Princeton University, where her thesis on Islamic law won a prize for best PhD dissertation. She has traveled for research to Egypt, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere.
Amir Ahmad Nasr is a digital media and marketing consultant and leading Sudanese blogger. He's been featured on USA Today, BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Al Jazeera's English TV channel, German magazines and many more media outlets. He is the host and curator of The Future of Islam In the Age of New Media, an audio seminar that convened 60 speakers in 60 seconds each for a total of 60 insightful minutes. He is also the author of the upcoming book, Islam: A Love Story - How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind, Broke My Heart, and Blogging Freed My Mystic Soul.
A native of Mauritania, Nasser Weddady is the civil rights outreach director of the American Islamic Congress. He grew up in Libya and Syria, traveling extensively through the Middle East, before coming to the US seeking asylum in 2000. A few days after the September 11 attacks, Nasser was falsely detained by the FBI because of his ethnic appearance. A long-time activist in the struggle to end slavery in his homeland, Nasser has organized conferences for young activists across the Middle East; published in the International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and Baltimore Sun; appeared on Fox's Hannity & Colmes, BBC World Service, Al Jazeera, and Radio Liberty; and testified to Congress' Human Rights Caucus. Fluent in five languages, Nasser has lectured at the US Institute of Peace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and diverse interfaith settings.