In London, Ambassador Ahmed visited the Prince Albert Memorial in Hyde Park where he discusses the connection between empire and immigration. Price Albert was the Prince Consort of Queen Victoria, the Empress of India. He died in 1861 after contracting typhoid fever, plunging Queen Victoria into mourning for the rest of her life. A number of public monuments were raised in his honor after his death, including the Prince Albert Memorial.
While in London, the Journey into Europe team went to Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London where they visited the East London Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Western Europe. During their visit, they spoke with Dilowar Khan, the Executive Director of the East London Mosque, and Salman Farsi, the Media Officer of the East London Mosque Trust, about the history of the mosque and the Muslim community of Tower Hamlets.
Akbar Ahmed is a former ambassador of Pakistan to the United Kingdom, a professor at American University in Washington, and the author of several award-winning books and documentaries in the field of Islamic Studies. He is a fighter for Interreligious Dialogue and one of the most influential Muslim intellectuals in America. For Al Jazeera, Ambassador Ahmed speaks about Gaza, the Middle East, the crisis of the Muslim world and the future of Islam.
The Journey into Europe team visited the city of Xanthi in the Western Thrace region of Greece where Dr. Amineh Hoti talked with Nuseybe Bosnak, a member of the Turkish Minority community, about her identity. The European region of Western Thrace, near the Turkish border in northern Greece, has been inhabited by a Muslim population for centuries, even prior to the Ottoman Empire coming in the 14th century. Today, the Muslim community of Western Thrace numbers over 100,000 with some villages having populations which are 100% Muslim.
In Thessaloniki, Greece, Ambassador Ahmed sat down with Professor Angeliki Ziaka of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, a specialist in the history of religions and the study of Islam and Arabic civilization. In the discussion, Professor Ziaka spoke of the history of Islam in Greece, Greek identity, and the interaction of Greek culture with both the Islamic world and Europe, what she referred to as the “Circle of Light.”
After intensive field research traveling across Europe with his research team studying Islam and intercultural relations in Europe, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC and the former Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK, will discuss the preliminary findings at SOAS.
The Journey into Europe project examines the historical relationship between Europe and the Muslim world and current complicated and controversial issues including Sharia, terrorism, immigration, and Muslim female dress and the new pressures of security, globalization, and multiculturalism.
Journey into Europe, which will yield a book and documentary film, is the fourth part of a quartet of award-winning books published by Brookings Institution Press examining the relations between the West and the World of Islam after 9/11.
Ambassador Akbar Ahmed’s Journey into Europe research project, studying Muslim life in Europe, is supported and funded by the Stiftung Mercator Foundation, the RCUK-funded Muslims, Trust, and Cultural Dialogue Project and the British Council.
Date: 20 August 2014
Time: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Room: Kamran Djam Lecture Theatre
For further information and registration, please visit the following website.
Ambassador Ahmed and the Journey into Europe team were in Thessaloniki, Greece. Founded in 315 BC, the city was named after the sister of Alexander the Great. In Thessaloniki, the Journey into Europe team interviewed a number of leading Greek academics and learned of the great contributions of Greek culture to world history and the importance of applying its lessons of humanism and reason to today’s problems.
In Sarajevo, Dr. Amineh Hoti of the Journey into Europe team interviewed two Muslim women on the topic of Bosnian identity, Nermina Idriz and Inas Hamidadean, who both have significant connections outside Bosnia. Nermina, a social worker originally from Bosnia, now lives in Penzberg, Germany and is married to Benjamin Idriz, a prominent imam in Germany who heads the Islamic Forum of Penzberg. Inas, a businesswoman, comes from a prominent Yemeni family and lives in Sarajevo. She is married to Professor Esmir Ganic who is the president of the American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina and was a great supporter of the Journey into Europe project in Bosnia.
In Sarajevo, Ambassador Ahmed sat down with Dr. Haris Silajdzic, who served as President, Prime Minister, and Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to discuss Bosnian identity and Islam in Europe. Dr. Silajdzic is recognized as one of the leading intellectuals of the Balkans and is among the leading intellectuals of Europe. He led his nation through one of its most critical phases of history–the war in the 1990s. As a leader of the country, Dr. Silajdzic has played a critical role in establishing the modern state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At the Srebrenica Memorial and Cemetery, the Journey into Europe team spoke with Khadijah Mehmedovic of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Hasan Hasanovic, the Curator of the Srebrenica Memorial Centre. Khadijah and Hasan’s harrowing stories of loss and survival during the 1995 Genocide moved the entire team, both Muslims and non-Muslims, to tears.