SRU to offer ‘ISIS Q&A’ Dec. 3



Nov. 30, 2015

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University will offer an "ISIS Question and Answer" session for those seeking more information about the group at 12:30 p.m., Dec. 3, in 114 Spotts World Culture Building.

Organizers said the idea is to create an informal, teachable moment in which students can ask about ISIS, Islam and the perception of danger against Americans in light of the group claiming responsibly for global incidents.

"We're organizing this because students have so many questions in the wake of the downing of the Russian jet, the events in Beirut and Paris and other recent ISIS-related actions, and we want to provide an open forum for discussion, review, information and analysis of ISIS within a historical, geopolitical and ideological context," said Cindy LaCom, professor of English.

SRU's Middle East Studies Center is offering the brown bag Q and A.

The discussion leaders are LaCom; Aksel Casson, SRU instructor of anthropology and archeology; Andrew Colvin, assistant professor of philosophy; Eric Tuten, assistant professor of history; David Kershaw, assistant professor of political science; Abbass Noorbakhsh, professor in the School of Business; and Ahmad Khalili, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies.

Is it possible to turn the Paris incident, in which seven coordinated attacks killed 130 people, into a teachable moment?

"Most definitely," Casson said. "These are important issues for us to discuss in the campus community. There are very real problems of perception when we in America conflate Islam with ISIS. ISIS is an entirely radical and terrorist group with a 7th century perspective on the world. Islam is not a core principle of the group. In fact, it is Muslims in the Middle East that are overwhelmingly the victims of ISIS violence. We hope to use the session as a teaching moment to combat some of these faulty assumptions and to educate students about the nature and threat of ISIS."

Casson said he hopes the informal panel discussion produces more understanding about often-confused issues. Casson will offer an introduction about the format after which he hopes student questions would drive the discussion.

"Our students are very sharp, and I'm confident that we'll have an informative, if informal, discussion," Casson said.

Over the past several years the Middle East Studies Center has sponsored a number of events such as this one that are designed to educate students about current events in the Middle East as well as the history and cultures of the region. In the fall of 2014 MESRU and Amnesty International presented a faculty roundtable on the rise of ISIS.

"Our goal will be to continue our discussion of ISIS and to provide students with the broader historical, regional and international context of developing events," Colvin said.

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