May 2012 News Bulletin

Students Honor Muslim Hero

Elkader, Iowa will host a celebration to honor an extraordinary world hero and students who have been touched by his life story on Saturday, May 5th at the Abdelkader Education Project Forum. Winning Abdelkader Essay Contest students will receive awards, supported in part by Principal Financial Group, as part of the inspiring program.

Celebrated French Algerian singer Nassima Chaabane will perform music reflecting the universality of Emir Abdelkader. Nassima has performed at Carnegie Hall and various locations around the world.

Historic Elkader Opera House

1:30 p.m. Doors Open — “Meet & Greet” with music from River Connections Jazz Band
2:00 p.m. Program Begins — Abdelkader Essay Contest Awards, Guest Speakers,
Andalusion music by Nassima Chaabane, and more
Reception and Discussions Follow Program — Refreshments on Stage

Program Speakers

Bonnie Bickel James (International Education Consultant, Maryland)
Jerene Mortenson (International speaker, former administrator and teacher, Alaska)
John Kiser (author, Commander of the Faithful and The Monks of Tibhirine, Virginia)
Sarah Sayeed (President and Co-Founder of oneblue.org, Washington DC)
Kathy Vaillancourt (Merrimack College, Massachusetts)
Salem Brahimi (Documentary film maker, France)
Bill Witt (former state legislator, currently freelance photojournalist, Iowa)

Free Public Event ~ Everyone Welcome

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The Mustard Seed Grows…Iowa and Beyond

Essay student Bob Spielbauer of Elkader advances to National History Day Contest in Iowa at the State Historical Society on April 30th. His historical paper entitled “Abd el-Kader: Reforming the Muslim Image” was selected at the regional Keystone Area Education Agency National History Day Event.

In Bob’s own words, “The theme was “Revolution, Reaction, and Reform in History” so it worked quite well for Abd el-Kader. …Abd el-Kader is just such a good topic because it’s both local and national, and it’s both close to my heart and relevant worldwide.”

Abdelkader Education Project colleague Barbara Petzen will conduct fall teacher workshops in Iowa on the Middle East, Muslims and Abdelkader Education Project. Following the success of our 2011 workshops, funded by Humanities Iowa, we plan to reach even more teachers. Those attending workshops in Elkader, Sioux City, Des Moines, and Cedar Rapids were extremely enthusiastic about what they learned and connections they discovered between their state and Muslim history.

One participant raved, “Very taxing two days in a good way! My brain is exploding!” Another commented, “The abundant resources provided were top quality and current. And, of course, Abdelkader was the star of the show: “I was impressed with all the information on Abd el-Kader. His view on life and other religions should be embraced by all. He is one person I believe I would like to follow up on. I like how he embraced compassion and mercy.”


Emir’s Story Gets More Exposure

In the news…Shams Ghoneim, Coordinator of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Iowa Chapter, recently wrote the following articles.

Elkader’s namesake served Muslims, Christians

http://thegazette.com/2012/04/08/elkaders-namesake-served-muslims-christians/

Elkader still offers hope, inspiration to today’s world

http://www.press-citizen.com/article/20120415/OPINION02/304150019/El-Kader-still-offers-hope-inspiration-today-s-world

Abdelkader Essay Contest spreads to North Andover, Massachusetts…Kathy Garms working with Kathy Vallaincourt of Catholic Merrimack College has brought eager students from North Andover Public School into the contest. Winners of the Massachusetts essay contest will be judged separately from Iowa students and will be announced at the Forum in Elkader on May 5th.

International Conference on “Abdelkader: A Man for All Times” held in Tlemcen, Algeria in February. John Kiser was asked to lead off a three-day conference organized by the Abdelkader Foundation along with University of Tlemcen and Ministry of Culture. In addition to numerous French and Algerian scholars, researchers from Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Canada, Syria, and Turkey discussed their work and the relevance of the emir’s life to today. Kiser’s talk about the Abdelkader Education Project in the US was well received and has brought an Algerian filmmaker, Salem Brahimi, to Elkader.

Emir Abdelkader in Boca Grande, Florida…In March, John Kiser was invited to participate in a three-day program “Faces of Islam” organized by Jane Geniesse, former NY Times reporter and author of books about the Middle East, together with the local libraries. Kiser talked about Commander of the Faithful and joined a panel discussion with Dr. John Voll of Georgetown University and educators Eric and Meera Widmer who established in Amman, Jordan a boarding school modeled on Deerfield Academy.

Annual International Festival of the Book held in Charlottesville, Virginia, in March featured Commander of the Faithful among the many titles selected.

Abdelkader Fellowship to be offered next year by University of Virginia’s Center for Culture and Democracy. The fellowship will be offered to PhD researchers who can demonstrate how their chosen subject relates to the life of Emir Abdelkader as a model of leadership, learning, statesmanship, openness to all faiths, and honor on the battlefield.

Fetzer Foundation in Kalamazoo, Michigan has asked Kiser to write a “white paper” on the relevance of Abdelkader’s life to matters of governance—focusing on themes of love and forgiveness.

Kinza Academy, a Muslim home-schooling association based in San Jose CA, is negotiating with Kiser for rights to a version of Commander of the Faithful for 8-12 year olds.

Abdelkader book for young adult readers by Elsa Marston is now under consideration by an editor.

London based Al Jazeera English Research Associate Nada Issa calls Kiser’s Commander of the Faithful, “Truly brilliant writing that really grips the reader.” Al Jazeera plans to begin filming an eight-part historical series on the Arab world this summer. The series begins in the late 18th Century with the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte in Egypt. The film will focus on the impact of French and British colonialism and the role of Emir Abdelkader in shaping the resistance to the French occupation in North Africa.

Islamic Paper Making of Interest to
“Friend of Abdelkader Education Project”

Tim Barrett, Director, University of Iowa Center for the Book Paper Facilities, reports that he was especially struck by the description of how Abd el-Kader’s smala (home base) was over-run by the French army. A portion of Barrett’s current work is focused on Islamic style papers. “The best of the paper in historic Islamic books are gorgeous,” says Barrett. “They were often specially colored, surface treated with starch solution, and heavily polished to facilitate the work of the calligrapher. I’m sure the books Abd el-Kader lost were beautifully made.”

Tim Barrett recalls from Kiser’s Commander of the Faithful “At Taguin, he found the remnants of his library. Heaps of ashes. The French had burned everything they couldn’t take away. The emir stared disbelievingly. The destruction of his books was a sacrilegious act. What is more valuable than knowledge? How could this be the act of a higher civilization, as the franci claimed to be?”

Abdelkader Education Project Team…

Kathy Garms, Barbara Petzen, John Kiser, Sarah Sayeed, John Boyer

Please visit our website www.abdelkaderproject.org. Thank you for following our project. We welcome all questions and comments. Contact abdelkaderproject@gmail.com