Monthly Archives: February 2015

“To Understand Europe’s Immigration Crisis, Listen to the Voiceless ‘Illegals'”

Huffington Post

By Akbar Ahmed

Today there is so much being said about Muslim immigration in Europe. Yet it is all too often in the abstract — we don’t usually meet those who are involved or hear their stories.
Last year, over 3,000 died trying to reach Europe, and the over 170,000 who managed to make it to Italy looked forward to what is often an extended period of misery as they encountered confused and sometimes contradictory European policy towards them. In the last week alone, Italy rescued around 4,000 migrants from the sea.
The immigrants who arrive enter the category of “illegal” and live in the shadows of Europe. To understand their plight and the challenges they are creating for European countries, I wanted to speak to the people involved, both the immigrants themselves and representatives of European governments who are dealing with them. With the current humanitarian emergency, notably in the Mediterranean where so many continue to die, it is crucial to hear their stories. Perhaps then we can gain some insight into what needs to be done to alleviate this monumental crisis.
It is for this reason that I launched the Journey into Europe project to study the Muslim communities of Europe, which has taken myself and a research team across the length and breadth of Europe, from France and Germany to Greece and Bosnia. In Catania, Sicily, in the last wintery days of 2014, I made the acquaintance of a 16-year-old boy from Gambia. It is important for all of us to hear what he has to say.

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Ambassador Ahmed discusses European Muslims joining ISIS on BBC World News

Ambassador Ahmed discusses ISIS on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show

“New Efforts To Block The Growing Threat Of ISIS”


Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq have reportedly, for now, beaten back an assault by ISIS. Earlier this week Egyptian warplanes dropped bombs on Islamic state targets in Libya. That attack was in retaliation for the apparent beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. The video which allegedly verifies these murders suggests that the extremist group is expanding its reach beyond territory it already controls in Iraq and Syria. Many say the U-S and other western nations are failing to appreciate the growing threat of ISIS and the need for a strong military response. Please join us to discuss the threat of ISIS.


  • Bernard Haykel professor of near eastern studies, Princeton University author of forthcoming book, “Saudi Arabia in Transition”
  • Ambassador James Jeffrey the Philip Solondz distinguished visiting fellow at The Washington Institute; former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey.
  • Graeme Wood contributing editor, Atlantic Magazine
  • Akbar Ahmed chair of Islamic studies at American University, former Pakistani high commissioner to the U.K. his forthcoming book is titled “Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration and Empire”

Listen here.

Ambassador Ahmed presents “Islam in Europe” fieldwork at American University


by Patrick Burnett

The American University (AU) community, His Excellency the Ambassador of Iraq to the United States, prominent Pakistani officials, friends, and supporters came together February 10 to hear Ambassador Akbar Ahmed’s findings from the field in the Journey Into Europe project.

Ambassador Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at AU and the former Pakistani High Commissioner to the U.K., reported on findings from his extensive fieldwork in Europe over the past two years, coming off the heels of a final leg of research in Denmark, France, and Italy during the winter.

Distinguished guests of this important lecture included Ambassador Lukman Faily, Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S., and his wife, Mrs. Fally, Brigadier Chaudhary Sarfraz Ali, Defense and Army Attache of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Pakistani Senator Akbar Khwaja, Dean Louis Goodman, Dean Emeritus of SIS, Ann Kerwin, wife of AU President Cornelius Kerwin, Brooke Beardslee, president of the SOAS Alumni Association of America, and Paul Smith, director of the British Council U.S.A. Dear friend of the project Begum Kosar, who hosted a dinner for the Journey Into Europe team in her home in McLean, Va. in March 2014 to launch the project, also attended the lecture with her grandson…

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Ambassador Ahmed Presents Preliminary Findings from the Field

Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Empire
A Lecture by Ambassador Akbar Ahmed
Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, School of International Service


February 10, 2015, 3:00-4:30 pm
Gianni Lounge, Mary Graydon Center
American University
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016

Welcome and introductory remarks by SIS Dean James Goldgeier
Lecture to be followed by a distinguished panel including:
Event Co-Sponsor Professor Randolph Persaud, Director of the Comparative and Regional Studies Program, American University
Professor Michael Brenner, Director of the Center for Israel Studies, American University
Professor Tamara Sonn, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor in the History of Islam, Georgetown University
After research spanning two years across Europe with his team and fresh from recent fieldwork in France, Denmark, and Italy, Ambassador Ahmed will present preliminary findings of his new study on Islam in Europe, representing a wide range of Muslim and non-Muslim voices. They interviewed presidents, prime ministers, religious leaders, extreme right wing figures, and imams. For further information, contact Harrison Akins at or 202-885-1641.

School of International Service
Comparative and Regional Studies Program, SIS
Department of Anthropology, CAS