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Conference to challenge Western stereotypes of Islam on 4th anniversary of 9/11
Wednesday, 7 September 2005
Reframing Islam: Politics into Law, 10-11th September, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway Some of the most influential writers and thinkers on Islam will travel to Galway this week to address and recapture the debate on the social, political and religious dimensions of Islam. They will be attending a conference on "Reframing Islam: Politics into Law," which will be hosted by the Irish Centre for Human Rights in the Arts Millennium Building at NUI Galway on Saturday and Sunday, the 10-11th September. Sunday is the fourth anniversary of 9/11. Speakers will include a leading Iranian activist, imprisoned in Tehran for criticising the regime and an acclaimed Islamic scholar recently refused entry to the US by Homeland Security. The conference aims to challenge and move beyond the stereotypes that currently grip the discourse on Islam—terrorism, enforced democracy building, Islamophobia, and militant regimes. Topics to be addressed include: challenges to the Muslim world post September 11th, the question of democracy in Islam, rights of non-Muslims in Islam, human rights and Islam, women within Islam, and specific regional challenges and attempts to create a civic Islam. The conference will explore what Islamic political thought is, and how it originated, developed and changed over the past 1400 years, and particularly since 2001. Dr Kathleen Cavanaugh, of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway and conference director said: It is a great privilege for the Irish Centre for Human Right to welcome the pre-eminent writers and thinkers in the Muslim world to NUI Galway, to debate critical issues facing Islam and current Western liberal perceptions of Islam. There is an urgency to begin to reframe the debates and the narratives that have enveloped the discourse on Islam, especially post September 11th—the twinning of Islam and violence, the arguments that there cannot be faith in democracy, the notion that there is a 'clash of civilizations.' This conference hopes to provide a space that goes beyond the idea of right thinking and wrong thinking and to lend some empirical and theoretical weight to the current debate on Islam. Dr Cavanaugh went on to say that change and reform within Islam, grassroots in origin, is underway and, as one commentator has noted is, "Islam's best kept secret." Change can be charted in countries such as Malaysia, Morocco and Turkey where civil society (informing political establishments) have endeavoured to address questions of democracy, gender equality and reinforcing and nourishing a vibrant civil society. Yet these changes and challenges are off the radar. This conference will attempt to refocus and reframe the debate on Islam, looking beyond the current 'face of Islam' to what is actually happening within Islam—which is both multifaceted and complex and often contradictory, i.e., moderate to extreme, reform to regressive, she said. Amongst those addressing the conference will be: Professor Tariq Ramadan, recently appointed (August 2005) by Tony Blair to a UK government taskforce attempting to root out Islamic extremism in Britain, is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder, in 1928, of the Muslim brotherhood. Dr. Ramadan lectures at academic institutions and civic organizations around the world. He has authored and co-authored over 20 books and over 700 articles. Through his writings and lectures, he has contributed substantially to the debate on the issues of Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world. He is active both at the academic and grassroots levels, lecturing extensively throughout the world on ethics of citizenship, social justice, and dialogue between civilizations. Dr Tariq Ramadan taught Islamic Studies and Philosophy as a professor at Freiburg University in Switzerland for many years. Regarded as one of the most important voices in Islam, Dr Ramadan was not allowed enter the United States in 2004, to take up his post as Professor of Religion Conflict and Peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame. Dr Mohsen Kadivar is a cleric and activist in Iran. Kadivar was arrested for the first in 1978 and 20 years later, the unconstitutional Court of Iran found him guilty of campaigning against the Islamic Republic, because of the statements he had made in an interview where he argued that acts of terrorism are condemned in the eyes of the Shiite faith. He was sentenced to spend 18 months in Evin Prison, Tehran, and was released on July 17, 2000. He is still campaigning for the reform of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, at the University of Delaware. Author of many books, including American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom (Amana, 2002), Jihad for Jerusalem: Identity and Strategy in International Relations (Praeger, 2004), Dr Khan frequently comments on BBC, CNN, FOX and VOA TV, NPR and other radio and TV networks. His political commentaries appear regularly in newspapers in over 20 countries. Dr. Jillian Schwedler is Assistant Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and has conducted extensive field research in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen. She has travelled to Lebanon, Turkey, Qatar, Syria, Israel/Palestine, and more than two-dozen countries outside the Middle East. She is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), publishers of the quarterly journal Middle East Report. In 2002, she was elected Secretary of the Palestinian American Research Centre (PARC). Dr. Schwedler s current research interests include protests and policing, political Islam, social movements, democracy and democratisation, identity, political culture, and transnational public spheres. Additional speakers, their profiles and the conference agenda can be found on: www.reframingislam.org Ends
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Order of Canada honour for NUI Galway Human Rights expert
Monday, 5 September 2005
Professor William A. Schabas, NUI Galway, has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour. William Schabas holds the chair in human rights law in the Faculty of Law. He is also the director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway. The appointment was made by the Governor-General of Canada. Members of the Order of Canada are selected by a panel chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada. Appointment as an Officer in the Order of Canada recognises 'a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large'. The Governor-General of Canada is authorised to appoint a maximum of sixty-four persons each year as Officers in the Order of Canada. Professor Schabas, who is a Canadian citizen, will be inducted into the Order of Canada by the new Governor-General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, at a ceremony to be held in Ottawa later in the year. Congratulating Professor Schabas on the prestigious honour bestowed on him, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway said: We are delighted and proud that Professor Schabas has been awarded Canada's highest civilian honour. A legal scholar of international renown, Professor Schabas is an outstanding author, teacher and human rights advocate. As Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Professor Schabas leads academic staff and students in the study and promotion of human rights and humanitarian law. William Schabas is distinguished for his expertise in the fields of international human rights law, international criminal law and international humanitarian law. His many books and articles, published in both English and French, have been translated into many languages, and are regularly cited by the world's leading courts and tribunals. Professor Schabas has often served in international human rights monitoring functions for such international non-governmental organisations as Amnesty International and the International Federation of Human Rights. He has participated in missions to such countries as Rwanda, Sudan, Burundi, Cambodia and the Russian Federation. William Schabas was one of three international members of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which presented its final report in 2004. Ends
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Students at the core of all University activity
Monday, 24 October 2005
"Students are at the core of everything NUI Galway does, from the provision of top-class facilities to promoting research, from recognising the importance of teaching to fostering social inclusion and encouraging diversity", stated Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway at the first of a series of conferring ceremonies today (Monday), that will see more than 4,000 students graduate by the end of the week. NUI Galway campus has experienced major infrastructural development with the investment of €200 million in new buildings. Dr Ó Muircheartaigh announced further developments, which include the imminent openings of the €16 million J.E. Cairnes Graduate School of Business and Public Policy and a €23 million Nursing and Therapies Building. Plans are at an advantaged stage for a proposed €55 million Engineering School and a major €21 million Sports Centre will commence in Spring 2006. During this week's conferring ceremonies, Dr Ó Muircheartaigh will also present the inaugural President's Awards for Teaching Excellence, in recognition of the many dedicated and inspirational teachers among Academic Staff, whose outstanding efforts ensure that students of NUI Galway receive the highest quality learning experience. Referring to NUI Galway's significant success in attracting research funding, which has amounted to €100 million since 1999, Dr Ó Muircheartaigh said this had enabled research centres to be established on campus which will "provide post-graduate opportunities for many of this week's graduates, opportunities which previously would only have been available abroad." He went on to urge the Government "to continue to invest in this research and education infrastructure, so that generations of graduates will have a future of economic prosperity and opportunity." Dr Ó Muircheartaigh stressed NUI Galway's commitment to social inclusion, saying that the University is "continuing to develop and expand educational programmes to enhance access for the widest population from the regional level to the international level." Through Adult Education and life-long learning opportunities, and through Access and Foundation courses for both school leavers and mature learners, especially for less advantaged students, NUI Galway continues to support the education needs of the wider population. The growing participation of students from abroad which brings increased cultural diversity to the campus, is an important dimension of student life and Dr Ó Muircheartaigh said that the recently established International Scholarship Programme, would enable talented students from the developing world to undertake post-graduate studies at NUI Galway. Ends
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Launch of Irish Universities Association
Wednesday, 19 October 2005
At a reception today, the Conference of Heads of Irish Universities (C.H.I.U), the representative body of the seven Irish Universities, announced the change of its name to the Irish Universities Association (IUA). Also unveiled was the organisation's new website www.iua.ie. The new name better represents the objectives of the organisation and its work on behalf of the seven universities. The IUA provides a forum for the Presidents and senior officers of the universities to identify the strategic challenges facing the university system and to agree on the policies and plans for tackling them and developing the sector. As well as representing the universities, the IUA has undertaken substantive work on behalf of the universities in areas such as the following – Establishing expertiseireland.com with the financial assistance of InterTradeIreland which now has online profiles of over 3,700 experts from the nine universities north and south, and a growing number from the Institutes of Technology. Operating the National Office for the Marie Curie Scheme –the most successful programme for Irish Research under the EU6th Framework Programme with funding of €42m already secured Setting up the Irish Researchers' Mobility Office & Portal with financial support from the European Commission and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Speaking at the launch, Prof. Ferdinand von Prondzynski, President of DCU said: "The change of name is timely, and will allow us to focus our efforts more effectively. We know that Ireland's growth and competitiveness depends on the universities being effective and coherent in acting together. We know that universities are critical in securing a succesful economy, a vibrant cultural life and a stable society. The universities must improve the international ranking of the system, but also exercise leadership within Ireland during these challenging times." Professor von Prondzynski used this opportunity to call on action by the government to deal with the critical issue of university funding as recommended by the OECD Report published over a year ago. He stated: "The present financial position of the sector is totally unsustainable. It's a problem that can be solved, but it needs to be solved right now, not next year, not some time in the future". He said that the IUA will continue to work in partnership with the government, its departments and agencies, the European Commission and other stakeholders. He said: "The objective is to make Ireland a leading knowledge society. It cannot be done without us. We are here to help." Ends
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NUI Galway to honour three individuals for their contributions to the Arts
Monday, 17 October 2005
NUI Galway will confer Honorary MA degrees next week on PJ Curtis, Pádraic Breathnach and Ollie Jennings for their outstanding contribution to the Arts in Ireland. The ceremonies will take place Monday 24th October and Tuesday 25th October 2005. PJ Curtis, broadcaster, author, record producer and lecturer, will be recognised for his significant contribution to many aspects of Irish cultural life throughout a career that has spanned 30 years. A native of Kilnaboy, County Clare, Mr Curtis has won numerous awards for his radio documentaries which include the 1980 ground-breaking 'The House of R&B', the first programme on Irish radio to regularly feature authentic Blues, Cajun, African and World Music. Having produced 53 albums, he has worked with Ireland's finest artists and as a music historian, has lectured at home and throughout the US. Mr Curtis will be conferred with an honorary MA degree on Monday, 24th October at 11.00am. Padraic Breathnach, will be honoured for his immense contribution to cultural life in Galway and Ireland. A fluent Irish speaker, Pádraic grew up in Carna, Connemara. As a student in NUI Galway, he was deeply involved with An Cumann Drámaíochta and Dramsoc, where he teamed up with Ollie Jennings in a series of groundbreaking cultural initiatives in and out of college. He worked with An Taibhdhearc and Druid Theatres and became the first manager of Galway Arts Centre, before co-founding Macnas with Ollie Jennings. As both performer and Artistic Drector, Padraic Breathnach became the most visable face of Macnas, which as well as presenting the annual Galway parade, toured the US and with U2, over 40 cities in Europe. Macnas represented Ireland on the world cultural stage in Seville 1992 and was invited to usher in the new Millennium in New York in December 1999. As an actor, Pádraic has worked in several films and television programmes and now presents his own arts programme 'Soiscéal Phádraic' on TG4. Pádraic Breathnach will receive his honorary MA degree on Tuesday, 25th October at 11.00am. Ollie Jennings will also be honoured for his outstanding contribution to the Arts in Galway and Ireland. He worked alongside his friend Padraic Breathnach from his student days at NUI Galway, developing the Arts Festival into one of the most innovative and outstanding arts and cultural events in Europe. The two are synonomous with Galway's cultural renaissance in the last three decades. This artistic relationship was strengthened further when they co-founded the Macnas group. Ollie continued to develop and guide both organisations until 1990 when he joined the Sawdoctors as manager. Jennings will be conferred with an honorary MA degree on Tuesday, 25th October at 2.00pm. Ends
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