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Upcoming Events

The Growing Divide Between the Sunni and Shia Worlds

Panel Discussion

Tuesday, September 16
6:30 — 8:30 pm

NYU’s Jurow Hall
Silver Center for Arts and Science, 100 Washington Square East

How do we read the recent horrors brought on by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the continuing strife pitting Sunni against Shia throughout the Middle East and beyond? Are the sectarian tensions shaking the Islamic world a passing convulsion, or do they constitute the harbinger of a global confrontation, and what are the consequences for the United States of such developments? To address these momentous questions, New York University’s Center for Dialogues will host three leading scholars on Islamic history and politics.

The panelists include Hichem Djat, President, Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts; Richard Bulliet, Emeritus Professor of History, Columbia University; and former CIA analyst Judith Yaphe, professorial lecturer, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. The panel discussion will be moderated by Mustapha Tlili, founder and director of the NYU Center for Dialogues. It will be followed by a question and answer session.

Djat, an emeritus professor at the University of Tunis, is one of the preeminent scholars on the origins of Islam and the schism between the Sunni and Shia branches. He is currently the president of Bet Al–Hikma, the Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Letters, and Arts.

Yaphe is a leading scholar on U.S. foreign and security policy toward the Muslim world. She is a senior research fellow and Middle East project director in the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. She served for 20 years as a senior analyst on Middle Eastern and Persian Gulf issues in the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis, Directorate of Intelligence, CIA.

Bulliet is an authoritative historian of Islam, specializing in Iranian history, who has authored Cotton, Climate, and Camels in Early Islamic Iran: A Moment in World History and Islam: The View from the Edge, among other works.

To RSVP (required) or for further information, please email info[at]centerfordialogues.org or call 212.998.8693.

Subways: N, R (8th Street – NYU), 6 (Astor Place), A, B, C, D, E, F, M (West 4th Street).


More Fall / Winter 2014 Events

The Center is also hosting three other events this fall, with times and locations to be announced:

  • October 6: “America’s Latest Orphan: Afghanistan. What does the Future hold for the Country?” — a lecture by Barnett R. Rubin, director, NYU’s Center on International Cooperation
  • November 12: “Turkey under Erdoğan: Is it Still a Model for ‘Islamic Democracy’ ” panel discussion
  • December 4: “Social Media and the ‘Arab Spring’ ” — a documentary screening and panel discussion

Recent Event

The Aftermath of the “Arab Spring”: An Update

Lecture by Charles M. Sennott

Thursday, April 10, 2014
Lecture: 6:30 — 7:30 pm
Reception: 7:30 — 8:30 pm

NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, 20 Cooper Square, 7th Floor, New York, NY

The aftermath of the “Arab Spring” has resulted in unforeseen changes in the political landscape of many countries in the region, especially regarding the role of Islam and democracy. How have these countries been affected since the historic transformation began? Is U. S. foreign policy adapting successfully to these changes?

A leading journalist and observer of the region, GlobalPost Co–Founder and Editor–at–Large Charles M. Sennott, will discuss these issues in a lecture at NYU, co–sponsored by the NYU Center for Dialogues and the Foreign Policy Association as part of the Foreign Policy Association’s “Great Decisions” lecture series.

An award winning foreign correspondent with 25 years’ experience, Mr. Sennott has reported on the front lines of wars and insurgencies in at least 15 countries, including the 2011 revolution in Cairo and the “Arab Spring.”

Mr. Sennott will be introduced by Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director of the NYU Center for Dialogues. The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session.

See the event video here >

See the C–SPAN coverage here >


Past Events

“The ‘Arab Spring’: Does Academic Freedom Matter?”

A Panel Discussion and Report Release

New York University’s Casa Italiana
24 W. 12th St, (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
Monday, November 18, 2013
6:00 PM — 8:00 PM

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

In late 2010 and early 2011, it was clear that universities in Tunisia and Egypt were one of the main sources of the democratic thought that brought about the “Arab Spring”. By the fall of the same year, it had become evident that universities would also be one of the chief targets of violence during the transformation. Both extremist factions and newly elected governments perpetrated or condoned infringements on the rights of students and scholars. Now, in the wake of major upheaval in both countries this summer, the NYU Center for Dialogues and the Scholars at Risk Network have invited a group of scholars and experts to explore the “Arab Spring” and to consider the question, “Does Academic Freedom Matter?”

Panelists include:

Habib Kazdaghli, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Letters, and Humanities, University of Manouba, Tunis, Tunisia

Robert Quinn, Executive Director, Scholars at Risk

Amb. Serge Telle, French Interministerial Delegate for the Mediterranean

The discussion will be moderated by Prof. Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director of the NYU Center for Dialogues: Islamic World — U.S. — The West.

The occasion will be used to release the report “The University and the Nation: Safeguarding Higher Education in Tunisia and Beyond”. The report discusses the findings of the conference, “The University and the Nation”, held at the University of Manouba, in Tunis, Tunisia, this past February.

The event will take place at New York University’s Casa Italiana, at 24 W. 12th St, between 5th and 6th Avenues. The venue is best accessed via subway at the Union Square — 14th Street Station (4,5,6,L,N,Q,R) or the 14th Street Station (F,M).

If you wish to attend, please RSVP to aubrey[at]centerfordialogues.org or (212) 998–8693.

We hope that you will be able to join us.

Download the Report PDF>

Past Events

“The Future of US Policy toward Iran: Reimagining the Relationship”

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The NYU Center for Dialogues invited five experts to consider the trajectory of U.S. policy toward Iran and to provide recommendations for the future of the relationship.

Panelists included:

Flynt Leverett, Professor of International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University School of International Affairs

Hillary Mann Leverett, Senior Professorial Lecturer, American University School of International Service

Amb. John Limbert, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran

Amb. William Luers, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela and Czechoslovakia

Mohiaddian Mesbahi, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Florida International University

The panel was moderated by Prof. Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director of the NYU Center for Dialogues.

Watch the video of the event online >

Download the PDF


“Tunisia: The Last Hope of the ‘Arab Spring’?”


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The NYU Center for Dialogues: Islamic World — U.S. — The West would like to invite you to a panel discussion to consider the status of the democratic transition in Tunisia, featuring Salma Elloumi–Rekik, founding member of the Tunisian democratic opposition party Nidaa Tounes, Basma Khalfaoui, the widow of assassinated Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaïd, and Ambassador Frank Wisner, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. I will moderate the discussion, which will take place on Thursday, Sept. 26, from 6:30–8:30 pm at NYU’s School of Law.

Elloumi–Rekik and Khalfaoui are two of the pre–eminent voices of the united opposition in Tunisia. Elloumi–Rekik, who has been a guiding force in Nidaa Tounes and is a current member of its Executive Board in charge of International Affairs, will highlight the role of the primary opposition party in the Tunisian political system. Nidaa Tounes arose in the spring of 2012 as a unifying party for Tunisian secularists and democrats, seeking to pressure the ruling Islamist party, Ennahda, to maintain democratic accountability and human rights.

Khalfaoui has played a vital role in the formation of the popular movement which emerged as a legacy of her husband, Chokri Belaïd, following his assassination in February. The popular movement has sought to unite Tunisians around a clear set of democratic principles that move the political transition beyond zero–sum politics.

Wisner, who brings over three decades of experience in the U.S. Foreign Service to the conversation, will share his insights on the trajectory of the “Arab Spring”, especially in view of the dramatic changes that shook Egypt recently and considering the current U.S. debate on military involvement in Syria. Together, the three panelists will provide a new look at the ongoing transition in Tunisia as potentially the last opportunity for the success of the “Arab Spring”.

The event will take place at Lipton Hall, which is located at 108 W. 3rd Street, between MacDougal and Sullivan Streets. The venue is best accessed via subway at the West 4th Street Station (A, B, C, D, E, F, and M). If you wish to attend, please RSVP to aubrey[at]centerfordialogues.org or (212) 998–8693.

As we expect quite an exciting evening, we hope that you will be able to come.

With my best regards,
Mustapha Tlili
Founder and Director

Download the PDF

“ Meeting with former Prime Minister Beja Cad Essebsi, Founder of Nidaa Tounes ”

Nidaa Tounes Headquarters, Tunis, Tunisia
February 22, 2013

Tunisia Prime Minister

From left to right, Beja Caïd Essebsi, Mustapha Tlili, and Salma Elloumi Rekik

During his stay in Tunis, at the conference “The University and the Nation”, Founder and Director Mustapha Tlili met with Beja Cad Essebsi, former prime minister of Tunisia and founder of current political party Nidaa Tounes, to discuss the democratic transition in Tunisia. Salma Elloumi Rekik, treasurer of Nidaa Tounes, Aubrey Clark–Brown, Junior Research Scholar at the Center for Dialogues, Robert Quinn, Executive Director of Scholars at Risk, and Jonathan Fanton, former President of New School University and the MacArthur Foundation also participated in the meeting.

Tunisia Prime Minister

From left to right, Salma Elloumi Rekik, Aubrey Clark–Brown, Mustapha Tlili, and Beja Caïd Essebsi


“Beyond Political Islam: The Muslim Brotherhood and the Future of the Middle East”

Lecture by Dr. Tarek Masoud
New York University’s Silver Center — Jurow Hall
March 14, 2013
6:00pm — 8:00pm

Watch the videos of the event online >

Dr. Tarek Masoud, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, gave a lecture on the topic “Beyond Political Islam: The Muslim Brotherhood and the Future of the Middle East.” The lecture was followed by a Question & Answer session and a reception. The event was co–sponsored by the New York University Center for Dialogues: Islamic World — U.S. — The West; the Foreign Policy Association; and the World Affairs Councils of America. This lecture is part of the World Affairs Councils of America’s Understanding Muslim Societies Lecture Series, with support provided by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Courage to Think: Intellectual Freedom in Tunisia and the Arab Spring

Panel Discussion
New York University's Law School — Lipton Hall
Monday, April 9, 2012, 6:00 pm — 8:00 pm

More than a year after the revolution that inspired an entire region to action, the Tunisian population now confronts intimidation and violence against their artists, cultural entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and higher education communities. The past few months have produced the harassment of eminent Tunisian intellectuals and the denunciation of various TV stations and media officials connected with the release of two movies thought to degrade the sacred values of Islam. At the forefront of the political and social transformations underway throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Tunisia offers an important test case for interventions which strengthen local advocates of intellectual freedom and freedom of expression at this sensitive time.

In order to raise awareness of the importance of defending intellectual freedom and freedom of expression in Tunisia, the NYU Center for Dialogues, the Scholars at Risk Network, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the NYU School of Law, and Human Rights Watch will convene a panel discussion that will explore the threat that censorship poses to Tunisian communities, specifically analyzing the nature and origin of the spreading violence that has been increasing over the past year. The discussion will be geared towards developing positive solutions to contribute to the current constitutional reform process in Tunisia, scheduled to conclude by October 2012.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Fawzia Charfi, Professor of Physics, University of Tunis; Former Director of the Preparatory Institute of Scientific and Technical Studies; and Former Cabinet Secretary for Higher Education of the Transitional Government (Tunisia).
  • Professor Ikbal Gharbi, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Higher Institute of Theology, Zaytuna University (Tunisia).
  • Professor Habib Kazdaghli, University Professor of Contemporary History and Dean of the School of Letters, Arts, and Humanities, University of Tunis-Manouba (Tunisia).
  • Professor Hamadi Redissi, University Professor of Political Science, School of Law and Political Sciences of Tunis, Al-Manar University (Tunisia).
  • Mustapha Tlili (Moderator, U.S.), Founder and Director of the NYU Center for Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S.-The West

Program Agenda >

Read the report online here >

Download the PDF >

The United Nations General Assembly and the Business of Universality

An Address by H.E. President Nassir Abdulaziz Al–Nasser, President of the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
New York University’s School of Law
Monday, February 13, 2012, 6:00 pm — 7:00 pm

Read the Summary >

Read President Al-Nasser's Address >

“Miral: A Palestinian/Israeli Dialogue On and Off Screen”

Film Screening and Panel Discussion
New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts
Thursday, February 2, 2012, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
(Reception to follow)

Conference Program >

Rula Jebreal’s semi–autobiographical novel, Miral, tells the story of a young Palestinian girl coming of age amid the tensions and destruction of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Refusing to merely point fingers, the novel draws attention to the aspirations for peace shared by both Israelis and Palestinians and appeals for a return to constructive dialogue. With the diplomatic relationship between Israelis and Palestinians once again at an impasse domestically as well as globally, Jebreal’s call for both sides to rise above the political cynicism and stalemate that have characterized the conflict over the past decade has more resonance than ever before.

The film adaptation of Miral was directed by Julian Schnabel who also directed “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, and stars Freida Pinto, Hiam Abbass, and Willem Dafoe. “Miral,” which premiered in the United States at the United Nations General Assembly in March 2011, won the Cinema for UNICEF Commendation Award and the C.I.C.T. UNESCO Enrico Fulchignoni Award at the Venice International Film Festival in 2010.

Speakers include:

  • Rula Jebreal, Author, Miral (Israel)
  • Zachary Lockman, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History, New York University (U.S.)
  • Helga Tawil-Souri, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University (U.S. / Palestine)
  • Mustapha Tlili (Moderator, U.S.), Founder and Director of the NYU Center for Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S.-The West

Read the report online here >

Download the PDF >

“Arab Spring” or “Arab Winter”? — An Update on the Arab Revolutions

Panel Discussion at New York University’s Jurow Hall
Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Conference Program >

The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, which began on December 18, 2010 and January 25, 2011, respectively, have profoundly altered the landscape of North Africa and the Middle East. Nearly a year later, Tunisia and Egypt are preparing to elect new leaders for the first time in decades and insurgents in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain are continuing against all odds in their struggle for change. As we approach the one year anniversary of these momentous events, it is time to move beyond the dizzying victories of the "Spring" and to address the more difficult questions of the future: Who will lead these countries and what forms will their governments take? In what ways will Islam be incorporated into the new body politic? How will these changes affect the politics of the Mediterranean region? How can the West, and particularly the United States, best redefine its policy towards the region?

In order to provide a necessary update on the trajectory of the revolutions and protests, the NYU Center for Dialogues, in cooperation with the NYU Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, will convene a panel discussion to analyze the most recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly the long-term implications of constitutional and legislative elections in Tunisia and Egypt which are scheduled to take place in October and November respectively.

Speakers include:

  • Craig Charney, President, Charney Research, USA.
  • Hussein Hassouna, Ambassador of the League of Arab States to the United States, Egypt.
  • Zachary Lockman, Professor of Middle East and Islamic Studies and History, New York University, USA.
  • Mohamed Redissi, Professor of Political Science, University of Tunis, Tunisia.
  • Manar El-Shorbagy, Professor of Political Science, American University in Cairo, Egypt.
  • Frank Wisner, Former United States Ambassador to Egypt (1986-1991), USA.
  • Mustapha Tlili (Moderator), Founder and Director of the NYU Center for Dialogues: Islamic World U.S. The West.

Read the report online here >

Download the PDF >

Social, Ethical, Political, and Policy Implications of Interpretations of Islam’s Foundational Text:
The Qur’an

Symposium at New York University, Casa Italiana
Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 9:00 am — 6:00 pm

The way Islam is lived today and Muslim communities interact with the non-Muslim world, particularly the West, range from open and peaceful modes to a more radical stance, in large part rooted in interpretation by groups and individuals who use religion for political purposes and whose claim to legitimacy is based on selective readings and distorted interpretations of sacred texts, principally the Qur’an. This reductionist, misguided approach can only be challenged by rigorous intellectual debate by and among Muslim thinkers, a debate that can have tremendous policy implications. It could also have far greater credibility than the usual arguments, both positive and negative, developed by non–Muslim commentators on these very critical issues of our times.

The proposed symposium will lay the groundwork for a major conference, two years from now and possibly in Indonesia, which will include a large number of experts, who will be joined by policymakers from the Muslim world, with the aim of clarifying positions on these value issues, encouraging openness and moderation in the Muslim world, and improving dialogue with the West and the international community at large.

Speakers include:

  • Mohammad Amin Abdullah, Professor of Islamic Studies, Sunan K. Islamic State University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
  • Abdelmajid Charfi, Professor Emeritus of Arab Civilization and Islamic Thought, University of Tunis, Tunisia
  • Andreas Christmann, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam, University of Manchester, and translator of the work of the Syrian Islamic thinker, Muhammad Shahrur, U.K.
  • Dale Eickelman, Professor of Anthropology and Human Relations, Dartmouth College, U.S.A.
  • Mahmoud Hussein (Adel Rifaat and Bahgat El Nadi), Authors, Egypt/France
  • Robert Lee, Professor of Political Science, Colorado College and translator of the work of Algerian Islamic scholar, Mohamed Arkoun, U.S.A.
  • Stefan Wild, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages and Islamic Studies, University of Bonn, Germany

Report >

Photo Gallery >

Islam in Russia

A Public Lecture by Professor Vitaly Naumkin, President of the Russian Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow
New York University, Hagop Kevorkian Center Library

Thursday, October 28, 2010, 6:00 pm — 8:00 pm

More event information >

Photo gallery >

The Meaning of Averroes and Maimonides for Our Times: How to Make the Mediterranean Space a Community of Reason, Tolerance, Progress, and Prosperity?

Symposium at New York University, King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center
Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 9:30 am — 8:00 pm

The symposium will consist of two parts. The first part will be a screening of Jacob Bender’s documentary "Out of Cordoba: Averroes and Maimonides in Their Time and Ours."

The second part of the symposium will bring together two panels of scholars and policy officials from Europe, the United States, the Middle East and North Africa to reflect on and draw lessons from the lives of Averroes and Maimonides and consider how, through education, civil society initiatives, and inter-governmental cooperation, to make the Mediterranean space a community of peace and prosperity for all its people.

Speakers include:

  • Jacob Bender, Filmmaker, author of a documentary on Averroes and Maimonides
  • John Brademas, President Emeritus of New York University
  • Jacques Lezra, Professor of Comparative Literature and Spanish and Portuguese, New York University
  • Jerónimo Páez–López , Former Director, El Legado Andalusí Foundation, Spain
  • Jean–Christophe Menet, Advisor for the Union for the Mediterranean, Office of the President of the French Republic
  • Jorge Sampaio, Former President of Portugal and High Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for the Alliance of Civilizations
  • Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgam, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to the United Nations
  • Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director of the NYU Center for Dialogues, will moderate.
Report >

Photo Gallery >

Launch Event of Conference Report on “Bridging the Divide Between the United States and the Muslim World through Arts and Ideas: Possibilities and Limitations”.

The conference, “Bridging the Divide Between the United States and the Muslim World through Arts and Ideas: Possibilities and Limitations,” was convened by the New York University Center for Dialogues in Brooklyn, New York, on June 6th and 7th, 2009, on the occasion of the city–wide initiative, Muslim Voices: Arts and Ideas, co–organized by The Asia Society, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Center. The conference brought together over 40 scholars, artists, government officials, and cultural practitioners from the U.S., Europe, and across the Muslim world to discuss how cultural exchange can contribute to establishing a relationship of mutual respect and understanding between the two sides.

On December 8, 2009, an evening reception was held to launch the conference report and recommendation of the conference at the Century Association in New York City. This event was sponsored by Margaret Ayers, President of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Vishakha Desai, President of The Asia Society, Stephen Heintz, President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Karen Brooks Hopkins, President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director of the NYU Center for Dialogues. Generously funded by the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the reception brought together individuals from across the philanthropic, diplomatic, and academic realms to bring attention to this major report and its recommendations concerning the future of cultural diplomacy between the United States and the Muslim world.

Opening remarks >

Play video >

Read the report >

Download the report (pdf) >

Bridging the Divide Between the United States and the Muslim World through Arts and Ideas: Possibilities and Limitations
Conference at the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel
Part of Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas
Sat.-Sun., June 6-7, 2009

More event information >


Muslim European Women: Challenges and Opportunities
Panel discussion at New York University
Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 6:30-8:30 pm
NYU’s Casa Italiana, 24 W. 12th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenues)
Observers see Europe as an ambivalently welcoming space for Muslims generally and especially so for Muslim women. Yet several recent studies have confirmed that Muslim European women are actively engaged in multiple spheres of European life and are becoming leading agents of change within their local and national communities. Although many still operate under some form of constraint—whether due to ethnic or religious expectations or simple prejudice—they are instrumental in infusing a new vitality into “old” Europe. What challenges and opportunities do Muslim European women currently face: at work, at school, at home, and in the political sphere?

This panel discussion, sponsored by the NYU Center for Dialogues and the Consulate General of Sweden, will examine the prevailing pessimism—particularly in the media and political spheres—that surrounds Muslim European women. It will consider the policy implications of an alternative approach, which considers Muslim European women as engaged actors within the framework of a European identity.

Speakers include:
Habiba Boumlik, Assistant Professor of French, Sarah Lawrence College
Ann Dismorr, former Swedish Ambassador and author of Turkey Decoded (Saqi Press, 2008)
Assia Djebar, renowned Algerian author, NYU Silver Professor of French

Andrea L. Stanton, Assistant Director, will moderate the discussion.

Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director, and Ulf Hjertonsson, Consul General of Sweden, will offer opening remarks.

Read the report online >

Photo gallery >


Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas
Press Launch
Tuesday, February 3, 2009 12:00–1:30 pm

The NYU Center for Dialogues, in conjunction with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and the Asia Society, is pleased to announce “Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas” — a festival and conference celebrating the richness of artistic expressions throughout the Muslim world, to be held in New York, June 5–14. A press launch will be held Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at the Asia Society.

This initiative is the product of a two–year collaboration with BAM and Asia Society, and will be realized thanks to the foresight and generosity of a wide range of American philanthropies. The NYU Center for Dialogues particular contribution will be a two–day conference on “Bridging the Divide Between the U.S. and the Muslim World through Arts and Ideas: Possibilities and Limitations”, parts of which will be broadcast live via the Muslim Voices’ and the Center’s websites.

Read the press release announcing “Muslim Voices”, which was issued January 7 on behalf of the three sponsor institutions, here.

The following programming will be the centerpiece of Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas >

The Future of U.S.-Muslim Relations
NYU Center for Dialogues Roundtable Discussion
Monday, January 12, 2009

On Monday, January 12, 2009, the New York University Center for Dialogues, in conjunction with the University of Delaware’s Islamic Studies Program and its Center for International Studies, convened a roundtable discussion on “The Future of U.S.—Muslim Relations”, for invited New York—area scholars, policy experts, and NGO officials and a visiting delegation of Saudi Arabian and Egyptian scholars, political leaders, and governmental advisors.

Discussion centered on the choice between inclusivity and exclusivity; on images of Muslims and the Muslim world in U.S. media; on the need to balance people–to–people dialogues with broader institutional initiatives; on the benefits of “boundary crossing” through cultural and other types of exchange; on the place of Mecca in Muslim culture; and on the importance of reaching out to youth through popular culture. A wide range of opinions was expressed on issues like the role that religion plays in public life in the United States and in the Muslim world, and on how religion is employed as a “legitimator”, as well as what might constitute a definition of “fundamentalism”. Participants left with connections to a broader network and a commitment to continue the conversation via the Internet and future gatherings.

This roundtable fit within the NYU Center for Dialogues’ ongoing focus on replacing misunderstanding and distrust between the United States and the Muslim world with reasoned dialogue. It followed Founder and Director Mustapha Tlili’s involvement with the U.S.—Muslim Engagement Project and the NYU Center for Dialogues’ recent “Iran—U.S. Relations: Imagining a New Paradigm” conference.

Photo gallery >

Roundtable participants >

Iran–U.S. Relations: Imagining a New Paradigm
NYU Center for Dialogues Conference
Wednesday, December 3, 2008 9:00 AM — 6:30 PM

For the past thirty years, Iranian–U.S. relations have been characterized by conflict, tension and suspicion. As America prepares to inaugurate a new president, the NYU Center for Dialogues convenes a one–day conference to ask what might a relationship articulated around a new paradigm look like—a paradigm based on mutual recognition of the need for dignity and security for both sides? How might this paradigm address grievances created by past moments of hurt, while providing a way to move toward the realization of a shared destiny and a positive future?

Panel I: Imagining a New Paradigm for Iran–U.S. Relations
Panel II: Shared Concerns, Shared Interests
Panel III: Planning for Change

Panelists include:

  • Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor of World and Middle East history, Baruch College, City University of New York;
  • Stephen Heintz, President, Rockefeller Brother Fund;
  • Fatemah Keshavarz, Chair, Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages, Washington University;
  • Gholamali Khoshroo, Senior Editor, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Islam and former Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations;
  • John Limbert, Distinguished Professor of International Affairs, US Naval Academy and former US Ambassador;
  • Hillary Mann Leverett, former National Security Council Director and CEO, Stratega;
  • William Luers, Chair and President, United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA–USA) and former US Ambassador;
  • Mohiaddin Mesbahi, Director, Middle East Center, Florida International University;
  • Ali Omidi, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Isfahan;
  • Shabnam Rezaei, Founder and Editor–in–Chief, Persian Mirror;
  • Elizabeth Rubin, Edwin R. Murrow Press Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations;
  • Gary Sick, Senior Research Scholar, Middle East Institute, Columbia University;
  • Barbara Slavin, journalist and author, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S. and the Twisted Path to Confrontation

Chair: Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director.

Read the report >

Download the report (pdf) >

Photo gallery >

Iran-U.S Relations PosterDownload a pdf of the conference poster (30 mg)


U.S.–Muslim Engagement Project Report Published: “Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World” September 24, 2008, at the National Press Club, Washington D.C.

The U.S.–Muslim Engagement Project’s Leadership Group released its first high–level, bi–partisan, inter–faith and multi–disciplinary report on strategies for improving American interactions with the Muslim world, “Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World”, at the National Press Club on September 24, 2008. The Leadership Group’s members include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; writer and speaker Stephen Covey; former AIPAC Executive Director Thomas Dine; Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz; Soliya Chairman Shamil Idriss; Ingrid Mattson, President of the Islamic Society of North America; Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies; and Center for Dialogues Director Mustapha Tlili.

“Changing Course” executive summary >

“Changing Course” press release >

Photos from the event >

New York Times coverage of “Changing Course” >

Islam online coverage of “Changing Course” >

Parade Magazine coverage of “Changing Course” >


Europe And Islam: Shared History, Shared Identity

Panel discussion at New York University
Thursday, September 25, 2008, 6:00—8:00 pm
NYU’s Casa Italiana, 24 West 12th Street

The claim that European identity is a shared and partly Muslim identity is grounded in the recognition that “Islam” and “the West” are not opposite terms. “Islam” and “the West” are in fact closely connected – a connection that starts and continues with Europe. For the past 1300 years, cultural and commercial interactions between Muslim and non-Muslim Europeans have helped define European identity, making today’s Europe a shared space. The concept of “sharing” recognizes the importance of these interactions and offers a more accurate way of describing European identity – an identity that Americans also share. What are the policy implications of rethinking European identity as a shared and partly Muslim identity?

Panelists included:

Mohamed Arkoun, Emeritus Professor of the history of Islamic thought at the Sorbonne

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference

David Levering-Lewis, Professor of history at NYU and author of the recent God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe

Moderated by Mustapha Tlili, Founder and Director of the NYU Center for Dialogues.

This event was presented by the NYU Center for Dialogues in cooperation with the British Council.

Read Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu's speech, given at the panel discussion. >

Event report >

Event photo gallery >


A Press Conference in Doha with Mustapha Tlili on "Muslim Youth and Women in the West: Source of Concern or Source of Hope?"

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Iran and the Middle East: How to Shape a Security Regime Acceptable to All Regional Actors

The issue of Iran’s nuclear capability has created an unsettling atmosphere in the international community, particularly among western nations. Analysts contend that a peaceful and stable Middle East is vital to world peace and economic advancement. Bordered by Azerbaijan and Russia to the north, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east, and Turkey and Iraq to the west, Iran is an imperative regional player. But it has been on the sideline from global dialogue for many years. The roundtable will explore Iran’s role in regional stability in the past, present, and future.

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European Union Informal High–Level Meeting Considered Need for New Guidelines for Inclusive Citizenship in Europe

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Islam in the West: Source of Concern or Source of Hope?

Scarcely a day goes by without a call for closer dialogue between “Islam and the West.” Yet, such calls imply a false dichotomy. For many centuries Islam has been part of the West and visa versa. This is more than ever true today in Europe, in particular, where some 15–20 million people identify themselves as Muslims. Maintaining the conversation on these and related issues as well as highlighting the need for effective methods to deflect tensions when they arise as a result of misunderstandings should be of interest to all.

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Iraq for all Iraqis

Conference at United Nations, New York, June 11-12, 2007

Amid deepening challenges in Iraq, the New York University Center for Dialogues: Islamic World–U.S.–The West, in cooperation with the World Conference on Religions for Peace, and the Alhakim Foundation, brought together a dozen senior Iraqi religious and other civil society leaders at the United Nations to help forge global partnerships to rebuild Iraqi national consensus and an “Iraq for all Iraqis.” The conference was also attended by members of the diplomatic community, U.S. and other scholars and experts, as well as leaders of non–governmental organizations.

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Muslim Youth and Women in the West: Source of Concern or Source of Hope?

The NYU Center for Dialogues convened an international conference from 15–17 May 2007 at the Salzburg Global Seminar, in Salzburg, Austria.

The conference explored the challenges of and to Muslim communities in the West through the lens of youth and women, who have emerged from traditional roles and are forging new identities for themselves, and, in some instances, are becoming leading agents of change.

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Panel Discussion : Turkey—or is it Europe—at the Crossroads?

A panel discussion with: Steven Cook, Douglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Baki Ilkin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, Tony Judt, Director of the Remarque Institute at NYU and author of the book, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, Bahadir Kaleagasi, Permanent Representative of the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) to the EU in Brussels, and Fernando M. Valenzuela, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of the European Commission to the United Nations.

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Islamic Ethical Principles And Globalization: A Path to Partnership between America and the Islamic World

A lecture by Farooq Kathwari, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ethan Allen Interiors, Inc. 


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Lecture: Ibn Khaldun: Philosopher of Societies, Civilizations, and Empires

A lecture by Abdesselam Cheddadi (professor at the University Muhammad V in Rabat, Morocco and author of Ibn Khaldûn: L’homme et le théoricien de la civilisation) with Richard Bulliet (professor at Columbia University, and author of The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization) as discussant. The celebration this year commemorating the 600th anniversary of the death of Ibn Khaldun, the preeminent Muslim philosopher and historian, offers an opportunity to reflect upon his work in relation to our own times, in particular to questions of globalization and empire. Although he lived and wrote during the 14th century, Ibn Khaldun’s work derives contemporary relevance from his comprehensive understanding of the social and political systems of his time, his knowledge of Islamic culture and heritage, and his place as one of the foremost historians of society and of man.

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Who Speaks for Islam? Who Speaks for the West?

A panel discussion with, Munir Akram, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, Lisa Anderson, Dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, Karen Pierce, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, M. Javad Zarif, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations.

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In the Spirit of Fès: Living our Values

Writers, scholars and civil society activists engaged in a roundtable discussion on how to sustain values and engage in imaginative action in an increasingly complex and turbulent world. Featured panelists were: Taoufiq Ben Amor, Columbia University scholar, writer and musician; Benjamin Barber, scholar, writer, and founder of Interdependence Day; The Very Reverend James Parks Morton, Dean Emeritus of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and founder of The Interfaith Center of New York; Olara Otunnu, former U.N. Undersecretary General for Children in Armed Conflict; Zeyba Rahman, Director North America, Fès Festival and Forum; and Imran Riffat, Brookings Institute Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and Finance Director of Synergos Institute.

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Islam and modernity: how to be Muslim and modern today?

A roundtable discussion with Abdelmajid Charfi, Emeritus Professor of Arab Civilization and Islamic Thought at the University of Tunis, Hamadi Redissi, Professor of Political Science at the University of Tunis, and Boutheina Cheriet, Quillian Visiting International Professor at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Professor of Sociology at the University of Algiers, and former Minister in charge of Women’s Affairs and the Family (2002-2003, Algeria). Offered in cooperation with NYU’s Institute of French Studies and with the support of Air France.

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Panel Discussion: American Muslim Communities: Security risk or source of hope?

Daniel Sutherland, Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Muqtedar Khan, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware and Nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Naheed Qureshi, member of the board of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers and National Field Organizer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Conference: "Who Speaks for Islam? Who Speaks for the West?" February 10 and 11, 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Islam et modernité : comment étre musulman au XXIéme siécle. [Islam and modernity: how to be Muslim in the 21st century.]

A lecture in French by Mohamed Charfi, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Tunis, former president of the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights, and former Minister of Education (Tunisia, 1989&ndahs;1995). Offered in cooperation with NYU’s Institute of French Studies and with the support of Air France.

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Panel Discussion: "Why do they hate us? They used to love us! " U.S. Public Diplomacy and its Challenges in the Muslim World

Craig Charney, President of Charney Research; Farhad Kazemi, Professor of Politics and Middle Eastern Studies, Director of NYU's Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, and member of the U.S. Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World; Edward Mortimer, Director of Communications in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, United Nations (participating in his personal capacity); and Andras Szanto, Research Affiliate at the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Princeton University, and former director of the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University.

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NYU Convocation in honor of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al–Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar

On September 13, 2005 the NYU community gathered to honor His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al–Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar. NYU President John Sexton and Chairman of NYU's Board of Trustees Martin Lipton presented the Emir with the University's Presidential Medal for his significant contribution to strengthening the dialogue between the Islamic world and the United States. The Emir spoke on the importance of dialogue based on mutual respect as a key to improving Muslim-Western understanding.

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