Georgetown University in Qatar’s Middle Eastern Studies Student Association (MESSA) will host a public lecture by civil rights activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian this week, ahead of their annual conference. Al-Arian, who is currently a professor and director of the Center for Regional Politics at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, will be speaking at 6:00 p.m. on March 28 at GU-Q’s Education City campus.
“I'll be talking about the challenges facing the youth today, particularly in the Middle East, and how they should prepare to face them,” said Al-Arian. “I hope that the audience will have a better understanding of the major problems facing our world today, and what kind of education and knowledge, as well as tools and skills, they should have to make it a better, and a more equitable and peaceful world.”
The lecture is one of the student-run events surrounding this year’s MESSA’s conference, which focuses on themes of power, influence, and authority in the Middle East. The one-day event, which will be held on March 30, provides undergraduate students with a platform to present and publish their academic research to an audience of peers and experts.
Al-Arian is a prominent Palestinian human rights advocate and community leader. While working as a tenured professor of computer science and engineering at the University of South Florida in 2003, he was pursued by the U.S. government on various charges, resulting in a prolonged legal battle over which he eventually prevailed. After ten years in detention, solitary confinement, and under house arrest, Al-Arian relocated to Turkey in 2015. His case was chronicled in the award winning documentary film U.S.A. vs. Al-Arian.
The scholar has received several civil rights awards and was named “the premiere civil rights leader in the U.S.” in 2001 by Newsweek for his work to ban the use of secret evidence in American courts. In 2012, he was named, along with Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, as one of three American Muslims in the Encyclopedia of American Dissidents, which included 152 Americans between 1860 and 2010. Al-Arian has authored many publications, including a book on the Arab Spring and collections of poems detailing his time spent inside a federal penitentiary.