Abdelkader Education Project hosts forum in Cedar Rapids

Event is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Emir Abdelkader is shown in this drawing hanging in the town of Elkader in Clayton County in 1995. The town is named for Abdelkader, a Bedouin emir from Algeria who defended his country when it was invaded by the French. (City of Elkader Photo)
Emir Abdelkader is shown in this drawing hanging in the town of Elkader in Clayton County in 1995. The town is named for Abdelkader, a Bedouin emir from Algeria who defended his country when it was invaded by the French. (City of Elkader Photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — This weekend, speakers from the worlds of national security; education; and Muslim, Christian and civic leadership will gather in Cedar Rapids to discuss the many meanings of jihad as reflected in the life of Emir Abdelkader, after whom the Clayton County town of Elkader was named in 1846.

The ninth annual Abdelkader Education Project Forum takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Mount Mercy University CRST Graduate Center, 1650 Matterhorn Dr. NE, Cedar Rapids.

The event, titled “Abdelkader vs. ISIS: The Many Meanings of Jihad,” is free to the public. To register, go to abdelkaderproject.org/register-for-2017-forum/.

Considered Algeria’s George Washington, Abdelkader was a 19th century Arab scholar, warrior and statesman who counted among his admirers Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and Pope Pius IX.

The daylong forum builds on the annual Abdelkader Global Leadership Prize essay contests sponsored by the Abdelkader Education Project and open to high school and college students around the country.

The forum honors students who have best articulated how Abdelkader’s lived Islam offers an example both to leaders today and can serve as an antidote to both islamophobia and the radicalization of youth drawn to the allures of ISIS ideology.

Abdelkader demonstrated that “true” Jihad was about the heart and the head, as well as the sword ... leading Peter Maurer, president of the International Red Cross to call the emir, “the undisputed leader in the codification of modern international humanitarian law.”

Topics to be addressed during the forum include:

l Islamic rules of warfare that ISIS violates.

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l Why speakers from faith communities, the security world, educators, students, writers and humanitarian leaders view Abdelkader’s example as an antidote to ISIS ideology.

l How Elkader got its name, becoming the launchpad for today’s Abdelkader Education Project.

l Why a Virginia pig farmer spent eight years writing about Abdelkader.

l Why Abdelkader’s bust is in the foyer of the International Red Cross in Geneva.

This year’s event also includes a screening of the Emmy Award-nominated video, “The Secret Life of Muslims,” featuring a Bangladeshi-Texan who was shot in the face by a white supremacist but sought reconciliation with his attacker.

For more information, go to abdelkaderproject.org.

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